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Your Rights with “H-2A” Jobs


    What Is an “H-2A” Job?

    "H-2A" is the name of the program that allows U.S. agricultural employers to hire workers from other countries with a temporary contract. Workers already living in the U.S. also have the right to apply for jobs under the H-2A program.

    Rights for All Workers with H-2A Jobs

    Payment Rights

    If you are an H-2A worker, you have the right to get a copy of your work contract in a language you can understand. Your employer must pay you at least $12.75 per hour in Michigan in 2017, even if you are working on a piece-rate basis. You must also be paid for at least 75% of the hours promised under the contract, even if you end up working less. Your employer must give you a wage statement showing hours of work, hours refused, pay for each type of crop, and the basis of pay (hourly or piece-rate). Your employer must inform you in writing of all deductions (not otherwise required by law) that will be made from your paycheck.

    Other Rights

    As an H-2A worker, you also have the following rights:

    • Free housing identified in your written contract

    • Three meals per day or free cooking facilities

    • Free transportation, in a safe vehicle, between employer-provided housing and the fields each day

    • Worker’s compensation insurance

    • Medical attention and paid time off in the case of an injury

    • Freedom from discrimination or firing if you speak to or seek help from legal aid or any other agency about problems with your employment

    Protections for Foreign Workers with H-2A Jobs

    Foreign workers with H-2A jobs also have the following protections:

    • Your employer must reimburse you for any fees you paid for visa processing and travel from your home to the U.S.;

    • Your employer must pay for your transportation to return home at the end of the contract; and

    • Your employer may not take your passport, visa, or identification away from you.

    Recruitment Fees Are Illegal

    If you paid fees to a recruiter in your home country, your employer must reimburse you for those fees.

    Protections for U.S. Workers with H-2A Jobs

    Employers who use the H-2A program may also hire workers in the U.S. (citizens or immigrants with residence or a work permit). If you are unemployed and want an H-2A job, please contact Farmworker Legal Services for a list of available jobs. Employers generally must hire any eligible U.S. worker who applies during the first half of the contract period, even if foreign workers have already started work.

    U.S. workers with H-2A jobs have the following protections:

    • U.S. workers may not be laid off during the contract period unless all foreign visa workers have been laid off first.

    • U.S. workers should be paid at least $12.75 per hour if they are doing the same work as the foreign workers, even if they were not hired under the same H-2A contract.

    Farmworker Legal Services helps foreign workers and U.S. workers who have questions about or problems with an H-2A job.

    This information was provided by Farmworker Legal Services (FLS). FLS is a legal aid office with lawyers and other legal staff who provide free legal assistance and referrals to migrant and seasonal farmworkers throughout Michigan.