If your available labor pool seems to be getting more shallow, Rachel Beardsley, partner at Fragomen, an immigration law firm, says ag business managers can think more creatively.
“Employers are seeking creative solutions to tap into new sources of talent to meet their hiring needs,” she says. “Immigration can be vital to an employer’s ability to achieve their workforce development needs as there are seasonal and full-time work visas available to lawfully hire talent from outside of the U.S., which is a vital pipeline for employers facing domestic talent shortages.”
At the 2024 Top Producer Summit, taking place in Kansas City, Mo., Feb. 5–7, Beardsley will detail strategies and tools managers can use. Three of those immigration program tools include:
- seasonal visas
- full-time work visas
- long-term permanent residence strategies
Learn more about successful strategies for diversifying your hiring pool at 2024 Top Producer Summit. Registration is open!
“Talent shortages in the domestic labor market result in agribusiness employers relying on international workers to meet their employment needs. While of course agribusiness employers recruit locally to fill positions, for many of these roles, there are more positions available than there are local workers available to fill them,” she says.
Beardsley has helped clients take a fresh look at their business’s open positions and where sponsored visas could provide an opportunity for talent acquisition.
Specific work visas are available for seasonal and year-round work.
“There are a wide variety of work visas available for the agricultural industry depending on the position. Visa solutions for seasonal or peak needs include the H-2A and H-2B visa categories,” she says.
The difference is in the nature of the work. For example, the H-2A visa is available for workers to perform agricultural services of a seasonal nature, such as harvesting crops. The H-2B visa is available for workers to perform non-agricultural work, which could include truckers, technicians and meat trimmers.
Temporary works visas can be applied for year-round roles to help agribusiness employers meet their workforce needs.
“For example, the TN visa is for Canadian and Mexican nationals in certain occupations, many of which are relevant to agribusiness positions, including agriculturalists, animal breeders, animal scientists, horticulturists, plant breeders and soil scientists. Given its universal nature, the H-1B professional visa is also an attractive option as it is available to any professional role that requires a bachelor’s degree,” she says.
While these tools open opportunities for diversified labor availability, Beardsley advocates it does require planning. Such advanced planning can include up to six months from the project start.
In addition to temporary work visas, another option is to sponsor international workers for permanent residence (green card) status.
“This option enables employers to retain top talent typically for key employees,” she says. “Employers may pursue the labor certification (PERM) process or a national interest waiver, depending on the position and the employee’s qualifications.”