Newest DOL Data Shows Continuing Expansion of the H-2A Program in 2022

In fiscal year 2022, the H-2A program continued its trend of explosive growth according to data recently published by the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC). OFLC approved 371,619 positions in FY 2022, which accounts for a staggering 18% increase in the number of H-2A positions certified compared with last year. This increase is the most recent example of the steady expansion of the H-2A program over the last decade. 

The increasing number of employers turning to the H-2A program presents significant dangers for both foreign and U.S. farmworkers. As Farmworker Justice has extensively reported, the disproportionate control that employers exert over H-2A workers leaves them extremely vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

OFLC’s data also  show an increase in the number of H-2A applications. The latest data shows that in FY 2022, OFLC received 19,023 H-2A applications. Of the 19,088 H-2A applications that were processed, about 97% (18,560) of them were approved with 371,619 positions certified. It is rare that applications are denied. In FY 2022, only 256 applications–little more than one percent–were denied. In fact, more applications were withdrawn than denied by the DOL.

The top ten states with the highest number of total certified positions are:

Florida 50,973
California 43,760
Georgia 34,974
Washington 33,049
North Carolina 25,624
Michigan 15,524
Louisiana 13,770
Arizona 13,731
Texas 11,655
New York 9,876

The 2022 OFLC data highlights a stark reality: the flawed H-2A program is growing rapidly and it is not showing any signs of slowing down. The continued expansion of the H-2A program only reinforces employer’s access to a captive, vulnerable workforce. Rather than dedicating resources to facilitating this expansion, the U.S. government must significantly reform the H-2A program and improve enforcement of existing regulations.