Many farmworkers come to the U.S. on H-2A, or temporary agriculture work, visas. The number of visas certified has more than doubled over the past several years.

But a sliver of workers on H-2A visas are already in the country when their visas are processed, according to data from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. These are workers who are either extending their stay on an H-2A visa or are switching from a different kind of visa, according to USCIS.

In 2022, about 6% of all approved H-2A visas were for people who were already in the U.S., data shows.

Florida, California and North Carolina are the top three states reporting workers in the visa program. Michigan and Missouri top the list in the Midwest. 

One of the characteristics of the H-2A temporary agricultural program is that employers are required to provide free and safe housing to workers. However, as Investigative Midwest has shown, some workers still endure unsafe and substandard housing. 

Type of work:

Explainer A data-driven story that provides background, definition and detail on a specific topic.

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Mònica CorderoData and investigative journalist, Report for America corps member

Mónica Cordero is a Report for America corps member and part of the Mississippi River Basin Ag & Water Desk team. Her expertise includes data analysis with Python and SQL, and reporting under the...

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