If you came to the United States with a temporary visa to work on a farm, you are probably an H-2A worker. Because you are an H-2A worker, you have some, but not all, of the legal rights that are mentioned in this calendar. Generally, your rights are governed by the contract you receive. You should receive a copy of your contract before you leave your home country. Some of the rights you have are the right to:
- Be paid the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR). In 2016 in New England and New York, the AEWR is $11.74
- Safe transportation from the labor camp to work and back.
- Free housing which is inspected and meets federal standards.
- Workers compensation benefits if you are injured while working, including medical care and sometimes a lost-wage benefit if you are unable to work;
- Reimbursement of some of your travel expenses to and from the United States;
- No retaliation for asserting your rights under the contract. This includes talking with a legal aid worker or filing a complaint.
- Other rights that are in your contract.
Please note that even if you were not contracted as an H-2A worker, but you are doing the same work as an H-2A worker, who is working at your farm, that you get the same contract and rights, including pay.
Contact a legal services office if you have questions or if you need help.
One other thing: If you have an emergency at home, it is possible for you to return to your country before the contract is over. However, if you leave the United States without following all the rules, you will not be allowed to return to the U.S. to complete the contract. You should have the help of a lawyer and the permission and help of your boss. And, remember, never stay in the US after the departure date in your passport.
For more information on H2A Workers, visit H-2A Contract News.