Everything to Know About H-2A, H-2B, and Green Cards

Green Cards

Do you know that finding, hiring, and retaining a sufficient workforce is one of the challenging tasks for agricultural and seasonal employers? Sometimes, domestic workers are not available in adequate numbers to meet the needs of temporary employers or are not interested in these kinds of jobs.

However, the H-2A visa attorneys at Farmer Law will assist small business owners and other clients on various issues related to illegal and legal immigration.

Although, there are a lot of nonimmigrant and immigrant visa categories that can be a lifesaver to seasonal and temporary employers.

This article will discuss three crucial foreign labor options: H-2A, H-2B, and Permanent Residency (Green Card) available for seasonal businesses in the United States.

H-2A – Temporary Agricultural Program

The H-2A visa program is for seasonal or temporary agricultural workers. The program helps about 14,000 agricultural growers around the country to recruit more than 270,000 positions. And the primary benefit of an H-2A visa is that it has no annual cap or limit. Unlike the H-2B visa, there is no limit on the total number of foreigners who may be granted an H-2A visa during a fiscal year.

In this program, employers must pay the prevailing minimum wage in the market, known as the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR). It is also important to note that this wage rate varies by state. For California, the rate is $16.77/hour as of 2022. Moreover, the work must be temporary and full-time (up to ten months).

Business owners must preferentially recruit and hire United States workers over foreign workers. So, employers have to contact any local worker laid off from the previous year to ask if they are willing to return to their job. If you want expert advice on this program, consider H-2A visa attorneys at Farmer Law for reliable information.

H-2B – Temporary Non-Agricultural Program

The H-2B visa program has generally been the preferred visa option for business owners looking to hire foreign workers coming to the U.S. to fill unskilled or non-professional occupations.

You also need significant investment as the application procedure to acquire these visas may involve as many as four different federal and state government organizations. In addition, these are the only nonimmigrant work visas that demand a temporary foreign labor certification from the employer.

Generally, H-2B visas are for unskilled seasonal or temporary workers. It is crucial for the workers to fill a full-time, seasonal job, and the job cannot be year-long (10-month limit). The process of acquiring H-2B laborers is complicated, with various steps and many government agencies.

Therefore, it is suggested that employers should begin the process six months in advance. And the main feature of the H-2B visa is that it has an annual cap or limit. Unlike the H-2A visa, there is an upper limit on the total number of foreigners who may be granted an H-2B visa during a fiscal year.

Permanent Foreign Labor Options – the EB-3 Visa

Seasonal businesses usually need additional workers during particular times of the year, and these businesses may also have a year-long requirement for permanent workers. So, one long-term option for employers in the U.S. to keep foreign laborers is financing them for a “Green Card” – permanent residency.


This also works well with an H-2B or H-2A visa, often allowing the foreigners to carry on with their work while the green card process is in progress. They can live and work without any restrictions in the United States after receiving their green card. However, this procedure can take up to 2–3 years.

Another essential thing to note is that there is a limit on the number of green cards granted annually; about 225,000 family-based and 146,000 employment-based cards are issued yearly.