USCIS Finalizes Streamlining Procedures for H-2A Program
WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today changes to the H-2A regulations that will streamline the hiring process of temporary and seasonal agricultural workers. This final rule will facilitate the H-2A process for employers by removing certain limitations and will further encourage lawful employment. These changes stem from the commitment made by President Bush’s Administration in August 2007, after Congress failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform. This final rule supplements the extensive reforms of the H-2A program that are included in the Department of Labor’s final rule, also being published today.
U.S. employers may file an H-2A petition with USCIS if they have a shortage of available U.S. workers to fill temporary or seasonal agricultural jobs. Once the petition is approved, the employers can hire foreign workers to fill those jobs for a limited period of time. The final rule includes mechanisms to enhance the integrity of the program, increase protection of U.S. workers, and protect H-2A workers from unscrupulous employers and recruiters.
Key areas of reform addressed in the final rule include:
This rule will also establish a land-border exit system pilot program requiring H-2A workers admitted through a port of entry participating in the pilot program to also depart through a participating port and to present designated biographic and/or biometric information upon departure.
These changes are being made in further fulfillment of the commitment made by President George W. Bush’s Administration in August 2007, after Congress’ failure to pass comprehensive immigration reform, to address immigration challenges using existing authorities.
This final rule supplements the extensive reforms of the H-2A program that are included in the Department of Labor’s final rule, also being published today. The final rule has been transmitted to the Federal Register and will become effective 30 days after it is posted.
Last Reviewed/Updated: 12/18/2008