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Immigration: Policy Considerations Related to Guest Worker Programs

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Congressional rept.

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The United States has two main programs for temporarily importing low-skilled workers, or guest workers. Agricultural guest workers enter through the H-2A visa program, and other guest workers enter through the H-2B visa program. Before an employer can file a petition with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security DHS to import workers under either program, the employer must apply to the U.S. Department of Labor DOL for a certification that U.S. workers capable of performing the work are not available and that the employment of alien workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. Other requirements of the programs differ. In December 2008, DHS and DOL published final rules to significantly amend their H-2A and H- 2B regulations. The new rules became effective on January 17, 2009. Under the Obama Administration, DOL proposed a new H-2A rule to replace the 2008 rule. This rule was published in final form in February 2010 and went into effect on March 15, 2010. The Administration left intact the 2008 H-2A rule issued by DHS and the 2008 H-2B rules issued by DHS and DOL. The DHS 2008 H-2A and H-2B rules modify previous limitations on H-2A and H-2B workers periods of stay in the United States. The rules also establish new requirements under both visas. They prohibit payments by prospective H-2A or H-2B workers to employers, recruiters, or other employment service providers where the payments are a condition of obtaining H-2A or H-2B employment, and provide for the denial or revocation of petitions in the event of petitioner violations. Among the other new requirements applicable to both programs, the DHS rules limit participation in the H-2A and H-2B programs to nationals of designated countries.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Personnel Management and Labor Relations

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