Federal Immigration Bill Poses Major Ramifications for H-2 Visa Program
U.S. employers looking to hire foreign nationals for temporary, low-skilled work will be able to comply with federal rules by posting jobs online, rather than in print newspaper advertisements, under a new proposal. Two recent proposals seek to modernize the recruitment requirements for the H-2A and H-2B visa programs, which allow U.S. employers to hire foreign national workers for temporary agricultural and other seasonal positions.
In late 2018, the Department of Labor proposed a ruling which would permanently replace print advertisements from employers seeking foreign national H-2 workers with online-only job listings. The proposal was drafted as a means to make job openings more readily apparent for US workers seeking the same type of work. Since the proposal, it has become increasingly difficult for those who benefit from the H-2 visa program.
The H-2A and H-2B visa programs allow U.S. employers to sponsor foreign national employees for agricultural and non-agricultural work, respectively. Many U.S. farm owners rely on the H-2A visa program for seasonal labor. While there is no cap for the number of workers granted H-2A visas, employers are currently required to demonstrate to the USCIS that there are not enough U.S. workers who are willing and able to take the jobs in question. Employers must also prove that their employment of H-2A workers will not “adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.”
A new bill intended to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act recently passed the House of Representatives. The bill, which seeks to provide new terms and conditions for nonimmigrant workers who benefit from the H-2A and H-2B visa programs, proposes the nationwide use of a web-based employment system known as E-Verify. E-Verify cross-references information from an employee’s I-9 form with records from the DHS to determine employment eligibility. Similar systems are already in place in 26 states.
If signed into law, the bill would require employers in the private sector to make use of the federal system when seeking out foreign labor for hire. This could significantly complicate the process or reduce the chances for certain foreign workers to receive temporary visas.
An immigration lawyer can help you stay ahead of changes in this rapidly evolving area of the law. If you have any questions regarding this bill or any other immigration matter, or if you need to speak with a legal advisor, you can contact me by clicking here.
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