U.S. Department of Labor Issues Final Rule Revising H-2A Program

The U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employment and Training Administration has issued a final rule revising certain aspects of the H-2A program that will allow agricultural employers to advertise for domestic workers online rather than in a newspaper before they turn to foreign guest workers.

The final rule, effective on Oct.21, changes the labor market test that DOL uses to assess whether able, willing, and qualified U.S. workers are available by:

  • Rescinding the requirement that an employer advertise its job opportunity in a print newspaper of general circulation in the area of intended employment;
  • Expanding and enhancing the Department’s electronic job registry;
  • Leveraging the expertise and existing outreach activities of State Workforce Agencies (SWAs) to promote agricultural job opportunities.

The revised labor market test will assess whether qualified American workers are available to fill temporary agricultural jobs by advertising all H-2A job opportunities on SeasonalJobs.dol.gov, according to an agency news release. SeasonalJobs.dol.gov is an expanded and improved version of the Department’s existing electronic job registry, the release stated.

The H-2A guest worker program allows agricultural employers to hire workers from other countries on temporary work permits for agricultural jobs that last ten months or less.  Agricultural and food processing concerns have asserted that the H-2A visa program does not adequately meet employers’ labor needs. MWFPA has been supportive of making changes to the current H-2A program which is expensive, flawed, and plagued with red tape.

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