Those who have the visas can stay in the United States for up to three years before going back to their home countries…
(Lionel Parrott, Liberty Headlines) In recent years, the H-2B visa program has received critical attention. But there’s another immigration-related program that is lesser-known but deserves equal scrutiny, says the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS): the H-2A program.
In a report from the organization, which describes itself as “low-immigration, pro-immigrant,” it was noted that issuances of H-2A visas have more than tripled since 2007.
The program allows companies in the United States to hire foreign workers in temporary positions related to agriculture.
Because it is exclusively agricultural, there is no cap on visas.
Those who have the visas can stay in the United States for up to three years before going back to their home countries, but they only have to stay in their home countries for three months.
After that, they’re allowed to apply for the visa again and return to work.
The lack of a cap means the program can grow or shrink without any needing any input from Congress.
And not surprisingly, in the past decade it’s grown.
Since 2007, there’s been a 218 percent increase in the number of these visas being issued.
If trends continue, it’s possible the number of issuances this year could go over 180,000.
Interestingly, over half of the H-2As are located in just five states: North Carolina, Washington, Florida, Georgia, and California. North Carolina has the highest number of these foreign agricultural workers at 32,740, and they make $11.24 an hour.
The low wages paid these foreign workers, who displace native workers, is concerning to CIS.
“Large agribusinesses are more than happy to import thousands of H-2A non-immigrant guest workers and pay them below national averages,” the report concluded.
They also noted that the agribusiness sector spends money lobbying Congress than even defense contractors, and “this may have some bearing on the relative lack of congressional action to the H-2A program and wages for H-2A workers.”
Check out the report from CIS here.