Updated: Jul 6, 2021
Many areas of immigration law need reform but to alleviate the reoccurring practice of entering illegally into the United States, the H-2A program (Temporary Agriculture Worker) needs to be streamlined. The H-1B program, also, needs reform but for now, let’s focus on the H-2A program. Currently, it takes approximately 90 days and $600 to $700 for a foreign worker and agriculture employer to get together on paper, so to speak. Of that money, the worker has to pay a nonrefundable fee of $190. If the worker meets the requirements, the farmer reimburses the worker, plus, the farmer has to pay fees and other incidentals to contract the worker before the worker makes his or her way to the US.
Having temporary agricultural workers fill in the gap for agricultural jobs is a benefit, in many ways, to us and the foreign national worker’s country as, most likely, that worker will be sending money back home where it makes its way into the country’s economy.
I propose the following changes that will expedite the process and ensure compliance:
No application fees for the worker.
Farmer only pays a one-time fee to have Immigration Services verify legitimacy and that farmer needs temporary or seasonal workers and that the farmer has a need to fill the job gap with foreign nationals.
The worker’s country establishes a bond system with the US embassy where the worker’s country certifies that the worker has a clean criminal record and that the worker will return to the country at the end of the visa period or forfeit the bond.
Once farmers and workers are vetted, they can find each other in an online employment platform where they can negotiate an employment contract.
After a worker is at a job site, a check-in /check-out system will notify Immigration Services of the whereabouts of the worker and that the worker is complying with visa requirements.
Although seasonal or temporary work is not a path to citizenship, credit should be given to workers that comply with visa conditions so that if the worker applies for citizenship, consideration should be given based on compliance. This will be a further incentive for the worker to return to the country.