H2A Visas for Thai Agricultural Workers
How can I hire Thai nationals to work on my farm?
Thai nationals may come to the US to work in the agricultural industry as part of the H2A Temporary Agricultural Labor program. Growers interested in hiring Thai nationals will need to seek Foreign Labor Certification from the US Department of Labor.
What does the Foreign Labor Certification procedure entail?
Foreign agricultural workers are only permitted to be hired if there are no willing or available US workers available to fill the positions. As part of the Foreign Labor Certification procedure the Department of Labor will verify that there is indeed a shortage of US labor. As evidence of a labor shortage, growers must unsuccessfully attempt to recruit US labor during the period in which the Department of Labor is reviewing their Foreign Labor Certification application. The Department of Labor will also inspect the conditions proposed to be offered to foreign workers to ensure that they will not depress the employment conditions of similarly employed US workers.
What types of benefits are required to be provided to the Thai workers?
Growers must pay foreign agricultural workers an Adverse Effect Wage Rate (this is the rate at which the government establishes that there will not be an adverse effect on US labor). In addition, growers must provide housing, transportation to and from America, daily transportation to and from the jobsite and workers compensation insurance for the workers, in addition to abiding by all federal, state and local labor laws.
How far in advance should I begin preparing to file the Foreign Labor Certification?
The Foreign Labor Certification application should be filed with the Department of Labor at least 45 days before the first day on which Thai agricultural labor is needed. The Foreign Labor Certification application requires prior arrangement of worker housing, a workers compensation plan and a plan to recruit US labor.
How can I recruit Thai labor?
Thailand recruitment of Thai labor for positions abroad is governed by the 1985 Recruitment and Jobseekers Protection Act. This piece of legislation requires all persons recruiting labor in Thailand to have a license. Eligibility for a license is restricted to Thai Companies (companies in which a majority of shareholders are Thai). It is illegal for Thai or Foreign individuals, including prospective employers, to recruit Thai labor in Thailand for employment abroad.
Prospective employers may recruit Thai employees through the government Employment Office or a licensed Thailand recruitment company. There are however Conflict of Law issues regarding Thailand recruitment law and US labor law. The most serious of this issues concerns differences regarding collection of recruitment fees.
How can Thai agricultural workers interested in traveling to the US apply for an H-2A visa?
Thai workers interested in traveling to the US to work agricultural jobs may apply for an H2A visa after their future employer has received Certification to Employ Temporary Foreign Labor. Workers will need to provide proof of strong ties to Thailand and an intention to return to Thailand at the completion of their contracted employment period.
Growers and Thai workers should be aware that it has been reported that the US Consulate in Thailand suspended issuing H2A visas to Thai workers in 2005 as a result of irregular recruitment charges being collected from visa applicants. Thai workers applying for H2A visas will likely need to prove that they did not pay excessive or unreasonable recruitment fees.