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DOL Suspends H-2A Final Rule
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The Department of Labor (DOL or the Department) is suspending the H-2A Final Rule published on December 18, 2008 and in effect as of January 17, 2009. That Final Rule amended the regulations governing the certification for temporary employment of nonimmigrant workers in agricultural occupations on a temporary or seasonal basis, and the enforcement of contractual obligations applicable to employers of such nonimmigrant workers.

To ensure continued functioning of the H-2A program, the Department is republishing and reinstating the regulations in place on January 16, 2009 for a period of 9 months, after which the Department will either have engaged in further rulemaking or lift the suspension.

On December 18, 2009 DOL adopted a final rule outlining new procedures for the administration of the H-2A temporary agricultural alien worker program. Many horse breeding farms employ foreign workers for temporary periods through this program. Those new regulations took effect Jan. 17, 2009.

On March 17 the DOL proposed to suspend the Dec. 18 rule and accepted public comment on the proposed suspension for 10 days and on May 29, 2009, the DOL suspended the Dec. 18, 2008, H-2A Final Rule that went into effect Jan. 17, 2009, to reexamine it and possibly come out with a new rule. This suspension will last nine months. During this period, the previous rules that were in place prior to Jan. 17 will be reinstated for those wishing to employ H-2A workers. The suspension of the current rule and reinstatement of the previous rule will take effect June 28.

H-2A applications that have already been filed according to the new Dec. 18 regulations or are filed before the June 28 suspension will be processed under those regulations. However, all new applications after that date will have to be filed in accordance with the requirements of the previous regulations. After the nine-month examination period, the DOL will either propose a new rule for public comment or reinstate the Dec. 18 rule.

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