Immigration and Temporary Workers


Hispanics are vital to the success of Idaho farms and ranches. Hispanics fill many hard-working jobs that other people are unwilling to do. According to government data as many as 1/3 of all Idaho farm workers are Hispanic. Many are U.S. citizens. Others have immigrated to the United States legally, and some have immigrated illegally.

The United States has an immigration system that limits the number of lawful permanent immigrants. Most new immigrants to the United States are family members of citizens, such as spouses, children, or parents.

However, the United States also provides various ways for immigrants with valuable skills to come to the United States on either a temporary or a permanent basis. There are more than 20 types of visas for temporary nonimmigrant workers. Examples include L visas for intracompany transfers, P visas for athletes, R visas for religious workers, and H visas for special occupations such as nursing and agriculture.

Most temporary workers are sponsored by a specific employer for a specific job offer and typically have limitations on the number of visas issued.

The H-2A temporary agricultural program provides farmers and ranchers with a means to hire foreign workers when they anticipate a shortage of domestic workers. A farmer or rancher must file an application with the U.S. Department of Labor stating that there are not sufficient workers who are willing, able, qualified, and available, and that the employment of foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of other similarly employed U.S. workers.

Any farmer or rancher who has been certified for a specific number of H-2A jobs must have initially attempted to find domestic workers. Even after H-2A workers are recruited an employer must continue to engage in efforts to recruit domestic workers. Employers must offer U.S. workers terms and working conditions which are just as favorable as those offered to H-2A workers.

Temporary foreign workers can provide Idaho farmers and ranchers with skilled workers for tough jobs.