Cancel OK

H-2A fees increase 7.9 percent

farmworkers heat
A decreased domestic labor pool, increased reliance on the H-2A Visa program, and the program’s flawed wage calculation have dramatically impacted the cost and availability of labor, pricing U.S. growers out of the market.

Visa fees for applicants to the federal H-2A (agricultural guestworker) program have risen from $190 to $205 as of June 17. This is part of a larger fee increase by the State Department for nonimmigrant visa (NIV) applications.

“NIV fees paid prior to June 17, 2023, will remain valid through the expiration date of the fee receipt,” says the department’s website.

“NIV fees are set based on the actual cost of providing NIV services and are determined after conducting a study of the cost of these services,” the department says. “The Department uses an Activity-Based Costing (ABC) methodology to calculate, annually, the cost of providing consular services, including visa services. The fees for most non-petition based NIVs were last updated in 2012, and certain other visa fees were last updated in 2014.”

Originally the fee increase was scheduled for May 30, but the date was postponed.

The new fees represent a 7.9 percent increase. Originally the State Department had proposed an increase to $310, or 63 percent. But the department received 80 comments, most of them saying that agricultural businesses could not handle such an enormous increase.

One comment came from Florida Fruit and Vegetables (FFVA), contending that “the Department’s [original] proposed fee increases are not based on fact.”

In addition to pointing out that “the proposed increase to petition-based NIVs will have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small businesses,” FFVA asserted that “the Department understates the rule’s impact on the total cost of bringing a worker into the United States” and “the Department has underestimated its projected annual number of applications.”

The author would like to thank Jason Resnick, senior vice president and general counsel for Western Growers, for assistance with this article.


Richard Smoley, contributing editor for Blue Book Services, Inc., has more than 40 years of experience in magazine writing and editing, and is the former managing editor of California Farmer magazine. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford universities, he has published 12 books.