What rights do seasonal agricultural workers have?

In my column Consulta Migratoria® answered the question of a seasonal agricultural worker who wishes to return to Mexico after working on an H-2A visa.

Each case is different and the answers vary depending on the immigration history of each person. Here I provide general answers to your questions. Please consult with an immigration attorney to receive personalized legal advice before beginning any process.

This is the column:

I am a seasonal agricultural worker of Mexican origin. My H-2A visa expired a month ago and now I want to return to Mexico. Will I have problems traveling by plane and for subsequent visa returns? -Miguel C.

Miguel, you may have difficulty returning to the U.S. on a visa if you overstayed your visa. If you violated immigration laws, immigration authorities could detain you anywhere, including at an airport.

Generally, a seasonal agricultural worker must leave the United States no later than 10 days after the expiration of his or her H-2A visa. During those 10 days, the seasonal agricultural worker may not work.

An immigration attorney should review your immigration history to determine whether you and your employer complied with the terms of the visa and whether you have a valid reason to be excused for overstaying your H-2A visa.

Rights of temporary agricultural workers with H-2A visas

These are some of the rights of temporary agricultural workers on H-2A visas:

Receive a written description of the terms and conditions of your employment from the first day of employment, including details about benefits, salary, housing and duration of employment.

2. Receive a minimum wage in accordance with the government's stipulations.

3. Receive compensation in the event of a work-related accident or illness.

4. Return to your home country for any reason before your employment contract expires.

5. Employers, recruiters, representatives, stewards, managers, or group leaders must not retain workers' passports.

6. The employer must provide clean and safe housing at no cost to you.

7. The employer must provide a secure place for workers to keep their documents.

8. Be able to travel temporarily to visit family members and return to the U.S. once your H-2A visa is valid.

9. No U.S. Social Security and Medicare taxes.

10. Your employer must reimburse you for your transportation expenses from your country to your place of employment at the end of half of the contract period; and must pay you for your return expenses to your country at the end of your contract.

11. If you are a victim of labor abuse or exploitation, you can go to and receive help from the Department of Labor.

Responsibilities of temporary agricultural workers on H-2A visas

These are some of the responsibilities of temporary agricultural workers on H-2A visas:

Work only for the sponsoring employer, as listed on the H-2A visa.

Leave the U.S. no later than 10 days after the expiration of the H-2A visa. During those 10 days the seasonal agricultural worker may not work.

3. Have your passport in your possession at all times or have immediate access to it.

4. Retain a copy of your passport and visa information and keep it in a safe place. This will help you obtain replacement documents if they are lost or stolen.

5. Obtain a written copy of the employment contract in Spanish and English. The contract should include the hourly wage, the name of the employer, the place and type of work, as well as the deductions to which the worker is liable.

6. Report to the U.S. Department of Labor and the nearest U.S. Consulate of the farmworker's country of origin any violation of his or her rights as a farmworker.

Miguel, I reiterate that you should consult with an immigration attorney as soon as possible to determine your immigration options.

For more information and immigration tips, read my blog InmigracionHoy.com.

Send your questions to preguntas@consultamigratoria.com. Include detailed information about your situation to better answer your questions.

Nelson A. Castillo, Esq. is an immigration attorney and author of La Tarjeta Verde: Cómo Obtener la Residencia Permanente en los Estados Unidos (Green Card: How to Obtain Permanent Residence in the United States) and presenter of immigration television segments of El Abogado a Tu Lado on NY1 News. He is a past President of the Hispanic National Bar Association and current President of the Westlake South Los Angeles Neighborhood Council. For information on how to contact Dr. Castillo, please click here. click here.

The purpose of this column is to provide general information. There can be no guarantee or prediction as to what will be the outcome of the information presented by Dr. Nelson A. Castillo. The information should not be taken as legal advice for any individual, case or situation. This column may be considered an advertisement under the Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys in several states, including California and New York. Consult with an immigration attorney for personalized legal advice before beginning any immigration proceedings.