Virginia Farm Workers Program

General Information:

Virginia Farm Workers Program is a program of the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society. We offer legal assistance to migrant farmworkers’ working in Virginia under the H-2A visa program, as well as migrant farmworkers who are legal residents or citizens of the US. We represent clients with work related legal issues, such as unpaid wages and violations of working and migrant housing conditions. Our office is located in Charlottesville, VA. This site contains general information about the basic rights of farmworkers under the H-2A visa program in Virginia. This information is not legal advice. For legal advice please contact Christianne Queiroz, the Program’s Director and attorney at 434-390-4554 or chistianne@cvlas.org. This website does not describe all rights of H-2A farmworkers.

What is the H-2A Visa Program?
The H-2A visa allows agricultural workers to come to the United States for a set period of time to work in agriculture. Workers holding an H-2A visa have specific rights and benefits related to pay, housing, and workers’ compensation insurance. These rights are guaranteed by U.S. law as well as under the provisions of the H-2A contracts.

Contract and Wages:

Before arrival in the United States, H-2A workers should have a contract, signed by the employer, clearly stating the name of the employer, period of employment and weekly days and hours of employment.The Department of Labor establishes a minimum wage each year for H-2A workers. This is different from federal and state minimum wages. The minimum hourly wage for H-2A workers and their co-workers vary from county to county. To check the minimum wage for H2A workers, please contact the Program’s staff.

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H-2A farmworkers are entitled to the following rights:

  • Receive weekly payment for all work performed during the week
  • Receive a minimum wage for each hour worked
  • Receive reimbursement for travel expenses (inbound) after completion of 50% of the contract
  • Receive reimbursement for travel expenses (outbound) at the end of the contract
  • Receive payment for ¾ or 75% of the hours promised under the contract
  • A healthy and safe place to live for the duration of the contract

Workers’ Compensation:

H-2A employers are required to provide workers’ compensation insurance to cover workers’ medical expenses in case of a work related injury. When a farmworker is injured in the workplace, the employer should offer names of three doctors from which the worker may choose one to treat their injury. Workers have the right to a translator if the doctor they choose is not proficient in the worker’s native language.

If a work related injury prevents an injured farmworker from returning to work, the worker does not need to immediately return to his/her country of origin. The worker has the right to remain in Virginia to receive medical treatment. If the worker misses more than one week of work, due to work related injury or disease, the worker might have the right to receive a percentage of the weekly pay, even if the worker has not performed work for the employer during the week.

In order to protect your rights, you should advise the employer immediately if you are injured in the workplace. You have up to 30 days after the date of the accident to inform the employer of the accident. When the worker is injured and is no longer able to work, he or she should submit a claim to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission, located at 1000 DMV Drive Richmond, VA 23220, toll-free 1-877-644-2566, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m., Monday through Friday.  You must submit your claim to the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission within two years of the date of the work related accident.

**This information does not constitute or replace legal advice**
**Always consult an attorney if you have doubts or questions about your rights!**

Contact Information

STAFF:

Christianne Queiroz, Virginia Farm Workers Program Director, 434-390-4554, christianne@cvlas.org

Ninel E. Foss, Migrant Outreach Worker, 434-327-1455, ninel@cvlas.org

PHONE:

Toll free number in the US 1-888-200-8479
Toll free number in Mexico 001-800-217-5173
434-296-5731 (Fax)

ADDRESS:

Virginia Farm Workers Program
1000 Preston Avenue, Suite B
Charlottesville, VA 22903