The Texas Workforce Commission Agricultural Services unit works with Workforce Solutions offices around the state to help employers in the agricultural industry. We can provide skilled workers, industry training and information about the job market.
The Foreign Labor Certification program lets employers hire temporary workers from other countries to fill jobs when the employers cannot find enough American workers.
When employers want to hire workers from other countries, they need to get permission from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and request a special visa from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. For more details, you can check the Immigration and Nationality Act.
We help employers who want to hire foreign workers by trying to find qualified American workers available in the area where the job is located. Employers must complete this step before they can apply for labor certification with DOL.
We help employers filing for two types of visas:
- H-2A (agricultural)--Employers must submit a job request through the Department of Labor FLAG System 60 to 75 days before the planned work start date.
- H-2B (non-agricultural)--Employers must submit a job request through the Department of Labor FLAG System and open a job posting in Work in Texas no more than 90 days before the planned work start date.
If you want to learn about other types of foreign labor visas handled by DOL, you can visit the U.S. Department of Labor Foreign Labor Certification website.
The Department of Labor requires all H-2A and H-2B job orders to be completed electronically. All correspondence for TWC should be sent by email to email@example.com.
The H-2A temporary agricultural program lets agricultural employers hire workers from other countries if they think there won't be enough local workers available. These foreign workers come to the United States to do jobs that are either for a specific season or are temporary, lasting no more than one year. Seasonal work is tied to a certain time of the year, like during a short growing season, and requires more workers than usual. Temporary work is when the employer only needs someone for a short time, not longer than a year, except in very special cases.
To use the H-2A program, use the Department of Labor FLAG System to complete your application.
After you submit your application on FLAG, we will review it to make sure it meets DOL’s requirements. If we don’t find any errors in the job order, or after all errors have been corrected, we will start looking for qualified American workers for half of the contract period listed in the job order, as required by federal regulations.
You can find the latest instructions for H-2A job orders on DOL’s website for H-2A Certification.
When to Pre-File for H-2A in Texas (H4)
TWC can only review H-2A job orders filed 60 to 75 days before you need the workers to start. This timeframe is counted from the day you finish ETA 790 in FLAG until the date you want the workers to begin.
If you cannot submit the job order on FLAG within 60 to 75 days before you need the workers, you may be able to file an emergency application with DOL.
How to Pre-File for H-2A in Texas
Starting from October 16, 2019, you should complete your H-2A application using the Department of Labor's FLAG System. Supporting information can be sent separately to the TWC FLC unit by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Review of Pre-filed Job Orders
TWC’s Foreign Labor Certification unit will review the ETA 790 and other supporting documents sent with the application. We will decide if a housing inspection is needed. If an inspection is needed, we will reach out to the inspectors assigned to the area where the housing is located. They will then contact you to schedule the inspection.
After we review everything, we will let you or your agent/attorney know one of the following results:
- Recruitment—We approved the job order for recruitment and entered a job posting in WorkInTexas.com. Employers will need to consider any referrals they receive while the job posting is open.
- Deficiencies—If we find any problems in the job order, we will email you a list of corrections that need to be made. To continue the process, you will need to respond to us within five calendar days, letting us know the changes you want to make in the application and giving us permission make them.
Filing with the U.S. Department of Labor
Once we approve your job order for recruitment, we will change the application’s status on FLAG to show that the job order has been approved and will notify you that we have begun recruitment. You may then use the FLAG system to complete and submit your 9142 to DOL.
Filing for Occupations Covered by Emergency, or Open Range Herder or Special Procedures
If you are applying for H-2A visas for certain jobs or occupations, there are specific rules you should know about.
In some cases, employers can use emergency procedures and apply for the visa less than 60 days before the work start date. You will not have to do the regular pre-filing. Instead, you will submit the ETA 790 and 9142 forms together in FLAG for immediate processing by the Department of Labor. The rules for emergency procedures are at 20 C.F.R. 655.134.
For open range herder jobs, the pre-filing process is also skipped. Employers complete the ETA 790 and 9142 forms in FLAG for immediate processing by the Department of Labor. There's no specific timeframe for filing herder applications. You can find more rules about herder procedures at 20 C.F.R. Part 655.200.
If you are applying for animal shearing, beekeeping, or custom combining jobs, you may qualify for special procedures. Unlike emergency and open range herder applications, special procedures applications still go through the regular pre-filing process and should be submitted 60–75 days before the work start date. These jobs often require traveling to different places, so employers are not limited to one area of intended employment. The rules for special procedures are at 20 C.F.R. 655.300.
- H-2A program information from US Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division
- Internal Revenue Service withholding tax requirements for H-2A foreign agricultural workers
- H-2A Agricultural Survey
- FLAG User Guides
- Migrant Housing Inspection Checklist from U.S. DOL
- Housing Regulations from OSHA
- Standards for Range Housing
- Mobile Housing Standards
- Employee Rights Under the H-2A Program - English Version
- Employee Rights Under the H-2A Program - Spanish Version
- H-2A Worker Rights Card - English Version
- H-2A Worker Rights Card - Spanish Version
- Farm Worker Rights Flyer - English & Spanish Version
Note: Employers are prohibited from shifting costs of any kind for any activity related to obtaining the labor certification, such as the employer’s attorneys’ fees, application fees, or recruitment costs.
The H-2B temporary non-agricultural program lets employers bring workers from other countries to the U.S. for temporary non-agricultural jobs.
The employer’s need for these workers is temporary if it falls into one of these categories:
- A one-time need
- A seasonal need
- A peakload need
- An intermittent need
For one-time occurrences, the need can last up to three years, but for other temporary needs, it can only be approved for up to nine months.
How to File for H-2B Certification
- Get a Prevailing Wage Determination by submitting an application through the Department of Labor’s FLAG system
- Create a job posting for the temporary positions in Work in Texas.
- If you need help, you can contact your nearest Workforce Solutions office
- File your H-2B application (form 9142-B) in FLAG.
The last two steps should be done together, no more than 90 days before the date you want workers to start.
Forms for the FLC program are filled out online when you apply using the DOL FLAG system. DOL also provides current versions of their forms if you cannot access FLAG.