FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 28th, 2022
WASHINGTON—Representatives Scott Franklin (FL-15) and Salud Carbajal (CA-24), along with more than 40 bipartisan colleagues, sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday urging the State Department against increasing fees on H-2A temporary agricultural worker visas. The proposed increase would raise the fees from $190 to $310, presenting a significant financial challenge for America’s farmers.
“Farmers in my home state of Florida and across the U.S. rely on the H-2A visa program for temporary labor as they work to feed our country. A 63 percent increase in H-2A fees would make it much more challenging for them to do business at a time when the agricultural industry is grappling with a major labor shortage,” said Rep. Franklin. “A sharp increase in visa costs would most likely be passed on to American consumers, who are already struggling with increasing food prices. I urge the State Department to reject the proposed increase in H-2A fees so that our nation’s farmers can continue to provide for our country.”
“In the face of ongoing labor market challenges and delays in achieving immigration reform, I’m committed to making sure Central Coast farmers can keep producing their goods and California feeding the world,” said Rep. Carbajal. “Dramatically escalating H-2A costs would be a significant burden at a time when farm workforces are already under stress, especially as our producers face increased input costs and continuing uncertainty from the pandemic, the climate crisis, and efforts to fix our immigration system.”
For more than 30 years, U.S. employers have sponsored temporary foreign workers through the H-2A visa program if they can verify there were no U.S. workers “who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work." Farmers and other agricultural employers utilizing the H-2A program often rely on many temporary workers, with most farms budgeting H-2A employee onboarding costs a year in advance. The State Department’s decision to roll out a major fee increase immediately, as opposed to over time, would have a severe impact on farmers’ bottom line.
The full text of the letter can be found below.