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Agricultural Related Employment for Job Seekers, Migrant Seasonal Farm Workers, and Foreign Labor: H-2A & H-2B

  • English: Job Seekers need to register in IllinoisJobLink.com to find work in Illinois. Click on the link above. 
  • Español: Los solicitantes de empleo tienen que registrarse en IllinoisJobLink.com para encontrar trabajo en Illinois. Haga clic en el enlace anterior y luego seleccione la opción de idioma español. Para convertir Inglés al Español en IllinoisJobLink.com, baje hasta la parte inferior de la página, haga clic en la flecha desplegable que dice "Select Language" y seleccione "español".

Agriculture is a critical component of Illinois' overall economic well-being, contributing about $120.9 billion of total economic output — more than several other Illinois industries, including the financial, transportation and construction industries. Farming provides the base for a variety of agriculture industries, including food processing and the manufacture of farm machinery, chemicals and fertilizer. 

United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS) administers the United States Department of Labor’s (USDOL) National Farmworker Jobs Program (NFJP) outreach and recruitment activities in coordination with the IDES Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker (MSFW) Program at the local level. The MSFW program offers employment services to individuals who are legally eligible to work in the United States and of legal age to perform services for wages.

UMOS NFJP field staff and IDES MSFW staff meet informally pre-season to prepare for the arrival and locations of migrant farmworkers; prepare outreach activities for the duration of the migration and agricultural season, review expected employment and supportive needs of migrant and seasonal farmworkers, and identify available resources to meet their needs. UMOS NFJP and MSFW Program staff also coordinate with staff of other local entities that provide a range of services for farmworkers in need. 

Each IDES office and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s (DCEO) WorkNet Center offer MSFWs a full range of employment services. Offices designated as "Significant MSFW Offices" provide bilingual Outreach Worker staff trained to provide specific USDOL Employment and Training Administration (ETA) MSFW-mandated program services. The Illinois "Significant Offices" also provides or arranges for field outreach and service to MSFWs in coordination with our partner, the Illinois Department of Human Services (DHS).

All IDES offices coordinate with partner organizations, public and private groups providing similar services, for MSFW program support. For further assistance, contact United Migrant Opportunity Services, our primary partner.​

Illinois State Monitor Advocate System:

A full-time State Monitor Advocate (SMA) at IDES monitors the provision of employment services to ensure that MSFWs receive services that are “qualitatively equivalent and quantitatively proportionate” to the services provided to other Illinois jobseekers. As required by federal law, MSFWs must receive all workforce development services, benefits and protections on an equitable and non-discriminatory basis, including guidance, testing, job development, training and referral. The SMA:

  • Serves as Advocate to improve services and ensure equitable access for MSFWs within the employment service system
  • Consults with various divisions of the agency to ensure accurate reporting of MSFW data.
  • Prepares and implements operating instructions including Policy and Procedures relating to MSFWs
  • Provides input on the Agriculture Outreach Plan annually
  • Monitors and reports on the Employment Complaint System, ensuring that MSFW complaints are processed.
  • Maintains communication with Outreach staff and management and addresses issues as they arise
  • Collaborates with UMOS, community groups, farmworker groups, and employers to promote fair and equitable treatment of MSFWs.
  • Conducts field visits to working and living locations of MSFWs.

The Illinois State Monitor Advocate is:

Julio Ramirez-Montero (julio.ramirez@illinois.gov)

CHECK OUT THESE SPECIAL PROGRAM LINKS FOR SPECIFIC INFORMATION:

Foreign Labor

H-2A Temporary Agricultural Program

H2-B Temporary Non-Agricultural Program

Fact Sheets, Posters & Training Materials

FYI: Illinois Agriculture 

According to the USDA/NASS State Overview, Illinois is currently ranked the #2 state in the nation for: 

  • Corn for grain
  • Soybeans for beans 
  • Value of Sales by Commodity Group ($1000): grains, oilseeds, dry beans, dry peas

Illinois is also ranked in the top five states for: 

  • Market Value of Agriculture Products Sold: Crops, including nursery and greenhouse 
  • Hogs and Pigs Sold
  • Hogs and Pigs Inventory 

Major Crop Activity: 

Seed and Grain companies; hog farms; Pumpkin and horseradish farms are the primary industries for employment needs. Other industries with smaller workforces remain in fruit and vegetable farms. While Illinois is considered a seasonal state, crop activity begins in April and ends in early December. 

University of Illinois Specialty Crop Resources; Summary of Illinois Specialty Growers Association reports the following schedule of crops and seasons for Illinois:

  • Asparagus (April to June)
  • Strawberries (Late May to Early June)
  • Apricots and Cherries (June to July)
  • Blueberries (June to August)
  • Beans, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower and Peas (June to October)
  • Fresh Herbs (June to October) 
  • Raspberries (June to November)
  • Summer Apples, Blackberries, Peaches, Nectarines (July to August)
  • Beets, Corn, Cucumbers, Pickles & Plums (July to September)
  • Peppers and Tomatoes (July to October) 
  • Thornless Blackberries (August) 
  • Grapes, Muskmelons and Watermelons (August and September) Eggplants and Greens (August and November)
  • Turnips (September to November)
  • Fall-Winter Apples (September to November) 
  • Pumpkins, Squash and Gourds (November to December)

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