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H2a Employment, Health Benefits & Readmission

Last Modified: March 8, 2022

For questions/clarification, contact your attorney and/or H2a association provider for assistance. Employees with questions can contact their local legal services provider.

They can also contact :

Julie C. Suarez
Associate Dean for
Governmental & Community Relations
Office of the Dean
126 State Street Suite 200
Albany, NY 12207

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Cornell University
Office 518-434-4157 | Cell 518-728-6061
JCS433@cornell.edu | cals.cornell.edu

Hi all;

While I've been waiting for a more official response to be forwarded from a few of our state and federal regulatory partners, I thought it wise to share the following resources on the issue of H2a employment, public charge/benefits, and health insurance in the meantime. If/when we see further regulatory guidance, I'll be sure to forward that along. In the meantime, please do feel free to forward.

The information below has been provided by several legal services organizations as well as immigration law attorneys, but is not legal advice and if in doubt, contact your attorney and/or H2a association provider for assistance. Employees with questions can contact their local legal services provider.

Below please find information regarding the Department of Homeland Security regulations and admissibility of H2a workers in subsequent years, as well as information regarding H2a employees and health insurance.

Note the original question comes from whether or not a NYS issued card entitled "my benefits" would deny an H2a worker re-entry into this country in subsequent years. The regulations below indicate that the Department of Homeland Security would not in fact deny an H2a worker re-entry from possession of a "my benefits" card as the benefit included is health insurance which is excluded from the definition of a public benefit.

Communicating this message with your employees before they leave for the season to ensure that they also understand that health insurance is not a benefit constituting a public charge would be wise so that issues are not raised during the interview process next year if the screening officer asks about whether or not the employee received public benefits the previous year.

Homeland Security regulations on how public benefits and programs are defined for inadmissibility purposes, specifically 8 CFR 212.105(b)(4), among other regulations:

212.105 Are there any forms of public assistance that I can receive without becoming inadmissible as a public charge if I should later apply for a visa, admission, or adjustment of status?

(a) The only benefits that are relevant to the public charge decision are public cash assistance for income maintenance and institutionalization for long-term care at Government expense. Institutionalization for short periods for rehabilitation purposes will not be considered. Non-cash public benefits are not considered because they are of a supplemental nature and do not demonstrate primary dependence on the Government.


(b) Although it is not possible to list all of the non-cash public benefits that will not be considered, you will not risk being found inadmissible as an alien likely to become a public charge by receiving non-cash benefits under the following programs or benefit categories:


(4) Health insurance and health services (other than public benefits for costs of institutionalization for long-term care), including, but not limited to, emergency medical services, public benefits for immunizations and for testing and treatment of symptoms of communicable diseases, and use of health clinics;

(available at: https://www.uscis.gov/ilink/docView/FR/HTML/FR/0-0-0-1/0-0-0-54070/0-0-0-56200/0-0-0-56785/0-0-0-56933.html)

Additional information regarding H2a employee eligibility for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, as well as eligibility (or non-eligibility) for other assistance benefits can be found in the links below from the US Department of Health Healthcare.gov website, as well as a fact sheet from the National Immigration Law Center, which is a non-governmental organization.
https://www.healthcare.gov/immigrants/immigration-status/

https://www.nilc.org/issues/health-care/lawfullypresent/

H2a employees are considered to be nonimmigrant visa holders, as defined above, and are eligible for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act unless an exemption condition is met. Unless exempted, H2a employees are liable for the tax provisions under the Affordable Care Act. An explanation on exemptions from minimum essential coverage can be found here: https://www.irs.gov/affordable-care-act/individuals-and-families/aca-individual-shared-responsibility-provision-exemptions

A few additional resources are linked here:

https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/h-2a-temporary-agricultural-workers

https://www.irs.gov/individuals/international-taxpayers/foreign-agricultural-workers

https://www.irs.gov/affordable-care-act/individuals-and-families/aca-individual-shared-responsibility-provision-exemptions

For a non-governmental organization's fact sheet on eligibility for health care for H2a workers, the link below is handy:
http://www.farmworkerjustice.org/sites/default/files/Brief_ACA_H2A_FAQ%202016.pdf

H2a employees should not be eligible for SNAP, as defined in the links below, and should not be enrolled in such. If an H2a employee makes an application for SNAP, eligibility would be denied at the time of receipt of application to the relevant agency. It does not seem that the act of applying constitutes a public charge.

https://www.fns.usda.gov/snap/snap-policy-non-citizen-eligibility

https://otda.ny.gov/programs/snap/SNAPSB.pdf

Most importantly, please find below a sample application from the Department of State that does provide the basis of many questions asked during the screening process. Health insurance would not be defined as part of a public benefit leading to a public charge.
https://travel.state.gov/content/dam/visas/images/DS-160_Example.pdf

The National Immigration Law Center, a non-governmental organization, has good articles explaining the issues surrounding public charges/benefits and employment of immigrants on visas. You can read the two articles linked below:
https://www.nilc.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/12/public-charge-overview-2013-10-01.pdf

https://www.nilc.org/issues/economic-support/overview-immeligfedprograms/

I hope this information is helpful towards explaining the complicated issues surrounding a public charge and re-admission. Given the Department of Homeland Security regulations on the topic, acceptance of health care benefits should not be a barrier to re-entry, despite the term "my benefits" on the issued health insurance card. H2a employees with insurance are required to cancel the insurance when leaving the country, so you may wish to remind them of that as well in addition to a friendly reminder about remembering to file taxes.

Best regards, Julie.

Julie C. Suarez
Associate Dean for
Governmental & Community Relations
Office of the Dean
126 State Street Suite 200
Albany, NY 12207

College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
Cornell University
Office 518-434-4157 | Cell 518-728-6061
JCS433@cornell.edu | cals.cornell.edu



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Upcoming Events

Good Agricultural Practices (GAPs) Training & Food Safety Plan-Writing Workshop

February 2 - February 3, 2023
Newark, NY

Goals of this workshop:

  • Understand how GAPs (Good Agricultural Practices) impact produce safety, and how you can improve practices on your farm to reduce the risk of microbial contamination
  • Learn the difference between a FSMA Inspection and a GAPs audit, and learn what is needed to have a USDA GAP/GHP audit and the 2 types (Basic & Harmonized)
  • Begin writing a farm food safety plan that complies with a USDA GAP/GHP Audit
  •  

This workshop is targeted at Mott's growers who need to have a successful GAP audit for the 2023 harvest. However, all farms and organizations are invited to attend.  

We will have several breaks, including a lunch break, scattered throughout the day, but feel free to step away whenever you need to. Lunch and snacks provided. Note: All times are approximate. Time spent on each topic varies depending on audience and questions/discussion. There will be time for questions at the end of each section and a final opportunity for questions when we close for the day.  

Instructors Confirmed: Craig Kahlke (CCE-LOF), Robert Hadad (CCE-CVP), Caroline Boutard-Hunt (CCE-Yates), Judy Wright (CCE-Seneca), and Representatives from NYS Dept. of Ag & Mkts.

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How Profitable Will My New Orchard Investment Be? 1-day, hands-on skills class

February 7, 2023
Highland, NY

The Eastern NY Commercial Hort Team and the Lake Ontario Fruit Team are offering a 1-day, hands-on course at 5 locations in NYS in January and February for tree fruit farms on using farm financial information and other resources to make decisions about long-term investments or changes to their business.  We will apply the techniques covered in the 8-part webinar series in December to scenarios using sample financial data from fruit farms in NYS.

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Apple Leafcurling Midge IPM - Webinar

Event Offers DEC Credits

February 16, 2023

In recent years, the apple leafcurling midge (ALCM) has become an increasingly problematic pest in many orchards across the northeast.

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Announcements

Save the Date! - Scroll down for Upcoming Events

Have you missed a meeting recently? All recorded LOFP hosted webinars can be found on our YouTube Channel https://www.youtube.com/c/LakeOntarioFruitProgram

NOW - please scroll down to find the link to the short NY Herbicide Resistance Survey!

Courses Available All Year - Cornell Small Farms Program New Season of Online Courses-Enroll Now!

2023

26 Jan - Innovative new technology to implement PACMAN (Part 2) & How's your adoption going?- 12pm (Eastern) - online - registration required

16 Feb - Apple Leafcurling Midge IPM - Webinar - 1:30-2:30pm - Registration Now Open

27 & 28 Feb - WNY Winter Fruit Conference - Registration Now Open


14 Mar - USDA/RMA Listening Session - Spring 2023 Apple Grower Meeting -
The Risk Management Agency (RMA) is inviting interested parties to participate in a listening session to discuss the proposed changes to the apple crop insurance program. Free - Rochester

15 Mar - Fire Blight Informational Webinar Series - Using biopesticides to help control fire blight - 7-8PM

13 Jun - Fire Blight Informational Webinar Series - Pruning and sanitation strategies to reduce fire blight - 7-8PM

18 Oct - Fire Blight Informational Webinar Series - Using weather and environmental conditions to optimize biologicals and biopesticides for bloom production - 7-8PM


Food Safety Virtual Office Hours

Cornell Institute of Food Safety "Virtual Office Hours", Tuesdays Noon to 1pm https://cals.cornell.edu/institute-for-food-safety/resources/virtual-office-hours

Past recorded virtual office hours can be found on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLZJs5b7KUuvfcquH3ZtQHo5dSmF2m5MdQ


Webinar Recordings

Check out the recordings of some recent webinars:

INTERPOMA - GENEVA - WEBINAR

Employment Opportunities

The CCE-LOF Program has created a space to share Lake Ontario Fruit Region local employment opportunities. See listings and details for sharing listings at https://lof.cce.cornell.edu/submission.php?id=890&crumb=business|business

Pollinator Resouces

Now available Pollinator Resource Links


Meeting Recordings Now Available

Did you miss the recent meeting?  Check and see if we recorded it and added it to our website or Lake Ontario Fruit Program YouTube Channel.

Honeycrisp Meetup recordings available here.

Why are my trees growing so poorly? recording available here.

Additional Recorded Webinars listing with recording and resource link are available at
https://lof.cce.cornell.edu/submission.php?id=838&crumb=crops|crops|apples|crop*38



New Publication on Growing Pawpaws

Are you a fan of pawpaws? These custardy fruits can be hard to come across, so this guide provides information on how to grow your own pawpaw from seed, and how to care for grafted seedlings. Pdf on growing now available.​ https://lof.cce.cornell.edu/submission.php?id=799&crumb=crops|crops|unusual_fruit|crop*50

New Weed Management Technology Survey

Want to move away from herbicide reliance? Are you using novel technologies to manage weeds? We want to know about it to inform our weed science research. A team of weed scientists from University of California Davis, Oregon State University, and Cornell University are asking berry, tree fruit, tree nut, and vine crop growers to take 5 to 10 minutes and answer this short and anonymous survey. Weed Technology Survey link: https://cornell.ca1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_bEpfAijoP7puQDP

For more information on this survey please visit http://blogs.cornell.edu/swd1/2020/12/02/new-weed-management-technology/


Pollinator Webinar Series - Summer 2020

The Pollinator Webinar Series presented by Penn State cover bee health and pollination services.



Bloom Pesticides for Pollinator Health

A reference table created by Janet van Zoeren and Anna Wallis, is now available at https://lof.cce.cornell.edu/submission.php?id=711&crumb=pests|pests.

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