U.S. Department of Labor streamlines, modernizes H-2A process

Carol Spaeth-Bauer
Wisconsin State Farmer
Farm workers pick the last of the season's blueberries.

The Department of Labor (DOL) took steps recently to modernize the burdensome H2A visa process. Two actions will ease regulatory burdens on farmers and ranchers, making it easier for them to follow the law and hire farm workers through the H-2A program, according to a press release from the U. S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

A final rule eliminates the requirement to advertise a job opening in print newspapers and instead shifts advertising to the DOL and State Workforce Agency websites, which are further reaching and more cost effective. In addition to making it easier for Americans to find and fill open jobs, the final rule will reduce regulatory burdens like the requirement that all employers advertise in a print newspaper of general circulation in the area of intended employment as the method of recruitment.

Additionally, DOL’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification announced updates to the pertinent H-2A forms and online filing process for the H-2A temporary agricultural program, according to the press release. The updates increase ease of use for farmers and producers who apply for H-2A employees. 

“Both of these actions by DOL are critical changes the Administration is making to improve the H-2A application process,” USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue said. “President Trump is committed to ensuring our farmers and producers have access to a stable, legal agricultural workforce. By streamlining these processes, DOL is bringing the H-2A process into the 21st Century allowing farmers to be able to better and cost-effectively advertise for workers they need and fill out the required forms faster and more efficiently, because no one should have to hire a lawyer to hire a farm worker.”

The DOL will continue to accept online submissions of the current Form ETA-9142A (and job orders uploaded using the current Form ETA-790, Agricultural and Food Processing Clearance Order) through the iCERT System until Oct.16, 2019.

Beginning Oct. 1, an employer seeking to employ emergency, H-2A workers or those starting on or after Dec. 15, 2019 must submit a job order using the new form ETA-790/790A (and corresponding addendums) and an H-2A application using the new form ETA-9142A (and corresponding appendices) in the FLAG System.

For more information, visit DOL’sForeign Labor Application Gateway(FLAG) page.

Carol Spaeth-Bauer at 262-875-9490 or Follow her on Twitter at cspaethbauer or Facebook at