The USDA says the number of H-2A workers increased five-fold between 2005 and 2019.
USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS) says this data is an indicator of the scarcity of farm labor. The number of H-2A positions requested and approved increased from just over 48,000 in 2005 to nearly 258,000 in 2019.
The H-2A Temporary Agricultural Program provides a legal means to bring foreign-born workers into the United States on a temporary basis.
Workers employed on an H-2A visa are allowed to remain in the U.S. for up to 10 months at a time. Employers must demonstrate, and the U.S. Department of Labor must certify, that efforts to recruit U.S. workers were not successful.
Employers must also pay a region-specific minimum wage, known as the Adverse Effect Wage Rate. The Economic Research Service says the average duration of an H-2A certification in 2019 was 5.3 months, implying that the 258,000 positions certified represented about 114,000 full-year workers.