Know Your Wage, Reimbursement, and Travel Rights as an H-2A Worker (FAQ)
Authored By: Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA)
- Read this in:
- Spanish / Español
If you are an H-2A worker in Montana, this article will help you learn:
- What you should know before coming to the US
- How much you should be reimbursed for travel costs
- And, how much you should get paid
What should I know before I come to the United States?
Your employer should have given you a copy of your contract outlining the terms and conditions of the job before coming to the United States. The contract should be in a language you can understand.
The law says it is illegal for any employer, including the recruiters in your country of origin, to charge you a fee for the job. If you have been charged any kind of fee, please contact Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA).
Can I get reimbursed for my travel costs?
Yes. Your employer should pay all your food and transportation costs during your trip (especially if you save all your receipts). The reimbursement for travel costs should begin from your house, not the consulate or the border.
Your employer should reimburse you after you complete 50% of your contract. In some cases, your employer should reimburse you during your first week of work. Your employer must also pay your visa costs. If you have any questions, talk to a lawyer.
How much should I get paid?
In Montana in 2019, most H-2A workers must get paid at least $13.48 an hour. It doesn’t matter if you get paid by the piece, bucket, box, or by contract. If you feel that you are not getting paid at least that much, Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA) may be able to help.
What other rights does my visa give me?
The H-2A visa gives you the following rights:
- Medical treatment and worker’s compensation if you get injured on the job
- Free housing that meets health and safety standards
- A proper kitchen to prepare meals
- Transportation to and from your job site
- Drinking water and disposable cups at your job site
- One sink and bathroom for every 20 workers
- Personal protective equipment for use around pesticides
- The three-fourths guarantee (see below)
What is the “three-fourths” guarantee?
Your boss should offer every worker three-fourths (75%) of the hours written into the contract. If there is not enough work or if your employer does not want to give you enough work, your employer is still required to pay for 3/4 (75%) of the hours offered in your contract.
For example, if your contract promises 10 weeks of work with 5 work days a week and 10 hours a day, your employer must pay you for at least 375 hours of work.
- 10 hours/day x 5 days/week x 10 weeks of work = 500 hours of work
- 500 hours x 0.75 (three-fourths) = 375 hours your employer must pay you
Don’t forget to save your pay stubs to make sure you are paid for three-fourths of the hours you were promised!
Do I have the right to file a complaint?
Yes. As an H-2A worker you can file a complaint if any of your rights found on this website have been violated. Under federal law, it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against, threaten, blacklist, fire, or discriminate against you for exercising your rights or for talking to a lawyer.
- Montana Legal Services Association provides free legal help for eligible agricultural workers, including foreign workers under the federal H-2A program. Learn more about how to apply for free legal help from Montana Legal Services Association.
- If you qualify for help from MLSA, you may be able to get free legal advice from a volunteer attorney by email using Ask Karla.
- Contact your nearest Self Help Law Center for free legal information and forms.