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Living arrangements for foreign employees with H-2A visas

On Behalf of | Oct 2, 2019 | Firm News |

Due to a shortage of laborers, California vineyards are hiring more temporary agricultural workers who qualify for H-2A visas. Because the government requires agricultural industry employers to provide their temporary guest workers with housing, vineyard owners are constructing worker guest residences with amenities such as internet access, laundry rooms and kitchens.

As reported by the Press Democrat, the number of temporary agricultural workers in Sonoma County is expected to increase, but only 30% of winegrowers provide housing. A higher amount of guest laborers, however, might result in a shortage of residences causing some competition in hiring seasonal workers. Qualified laborers may instead search for employers who also provide guest homes or dormitory units.

Seasonal employment that also provides housing attracts motivated workers

Recruiting foreign workers for U.S. employment opportunities generally begins while they are living in their originating countries. After workers receive an approval for a temporary visa and an employer hires them, the employer may legally transport them to the U.S. to begin work as authorized. Lodging that comes with highly sought-for amenities may result in a U.S. employer attracting more highly motivated foreign agricultural employees.

Workers must leave their employer’s residence when a visa expires

Agricultural guest workers may reside in their employer’s housing units as long as their temporary work visa is valid. Once a visa is set to expire, however, employees must leave their employer-sponsored residence and return to their permanent homes in their original country.

Even when an employer invites laborers to come back to work for the next season, the employees must return to their permanent home and apply for readmission. According to a Department of Labor report published in the Santa Maria Times, California ranks at number five in a ranking of states with the highest demand for H-2A workers. Staying, or “squatting,” at the residence provided by an employer, however, may result in serious problems when applying for a future work visa or readmission.