Friday, December 12, 2008

New rules for temporary farmworkers announced

The US Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) published changes to immigration regulations that will "streamline the hiring process of temporary and seasonal agricultural workers." These workers come to the US in H-2A status, however employers have long complained that the process is so cumbersome that the growing season is over before the workers get the visas to come here. One reason for the delay is the fact that the Department of Labor has to certify that there is a shortage of US workers available. This procedure is, unfortunately, not made any easier by the new rules.

Immigrant rights advocates complain that the new rules do not allow undocumented workers who are currently in the US to apply for the visas. Why don't they just go home and apply? Because if they leave the US, they are subject to 3 or 10 year bars on returning, in most cases.

The changes to the H-2A regulations include:
• Relaxing the current limit on H-2A employers to petition for multiple, unnamed agricultural
• Extending from 10 days to 30 days the time a temporary or seasonal agricultural worker may
remain in the country following the expiration of his or her temporary H-2A stay;
• Reducing from 6 months to 3 months the time an H-2A worker who has spent 3 years in
the US stay outside the US before s/he cat get H-2A status again;
• Allowing H-2A workers, who are changing from one H-2A employer to another H-2A employer, to begin work with the new petitioning employer upon the filing of a new H-2A petition, IF the new employer is participating in USCIS’ E-Verify program;
• Prohibiting H-2A employers and recruiters from imposing certain fees on prospective H-2A
workers as a condition of employment;
• Requiring an approved temporary labor certification in connection with all H-2A petitions;
• Requiring employers to notify USCIS when H-2A workers fail to show up for work, complete the work more than 30 days early, are terminated, or abscond from the worksite; and
• Permitting the approval of H-2A petitions only for nationals of certain countries designated as
important to the operation of the program and appearing on a list to be published annually in the
Federal Register. The initial list of participating countries to be published simultaneously with
this Final Rule includes Mexico, Jamaica, and 26 others.

For an article on NPR's Morning Edition:

No comments:

Post a Comment