H2A Changes Coming

H2A Changes Coming

Maura Bennett
Maura Bennett
The H-2A Visa Program – also known as the temporary agricultural workers program – helps American farmers fill employment gaps by hiring workers from other countries.

The Labor Department announced plans to modernize a long-time guest worker agricultural labor program.

The goal is to make it easier and more efficient and effective for ag producers as well as the seasonal hires who work for them.

Proposed changes include streamlining and simplifying the application process by mandating electronic filing of job orders and applications, promoting the use of digital signatures, and providing employers with the option of staggering the entry of H-2A workers on a single application.

Changes would be made to the methodology used to determine wages for workers. There would be a revised definition of agricultural labor or services to include employers engaged in reforestation and pine straw activities.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue was in California when the proposed H2A modernization program was announced.

"We've been working with the Department of Labor for over a year now and trying to help the H2A program become more workable. It's been very onerous very inflexible for these growers to comply with all the rules and regulations."

The U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Department of State, and state workforce agencies each manage parts of the H-2A Visa Program independently.

The USDA's Farmers.gov web portal will soon have new information about the H2A guest worker program.

Perdue says the Farmers.gov portal will have applications available for growers. One application would be sent to both the Department of Labor and Homeland Security.

Interested persons are invited to submit written comments on the proposed rule changes. More details on the proposed changes can be found at the Department of Labor website.

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