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How concerned should farmers be about the future of the H-2A visa program?

While most of us assume that farming is a purely American industry, this is not entirely true. Indeed, numbers from the American Farm Bureau indicate that roughly 10 percent of our nation's farming workforce is supplied through the H-2A visa program.

For those unfamiliar with the program, which started back in 1986, it enables farmers to bring foreign nationals to the U.S. for agricultural work on a temporary basis. While relied upon heavily by farmers needing both affordable and dependable assistance with arduous tasks like planting and harvesting, it has nevertheless been criticized for being expensive and overly complex.

That's because it calls for farmers to do everything from demonstrate that they've repeatedly advertised for U.S. workers and secure visa certification to coordinate with the embassies of the workers they are looking to hire and cover the costs of round-trip transportation, housing and meals.

This is not to mention, of course, that there can be lengthy delays owing to processing backlogs, costing farmers precious time.

While the process of managing the H-2A visa program can be stressful enough for farmers, many have also had to deal with concerns about the fate of the program given the Trump administration's twin commitments of immigration reform and ensuring that employers "hire American."

Interestingly enough, however, many experts believe that the H-2A is actually relatively safe, as the administration's draft executive order, which made the rounds in January, contained no suggested changes to the foreign seasonal worker visa program. Furthermore, there's the fact that the Virginia-based Trump Winery sought to secure 29 H-2A visas since December for assistance with vineyards pruning.

Stay tuned for updates …

Consider speaking with an experienced legal professional if you have questions or concerns relating to the H-2A program or any other visa-related matter.

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