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New Rule Proposed to Streamline H2A Procedures
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The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today a series of proposed rule changes that will provide employers with more streamlined procedures for hiring workers under the H-2A program. The proposed rule is published in today's Federal Register.

The H-2A nonimmigrant visa allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States for temporary or seasonal agricultural work. The series of proposed H-2A rule modifications, first announced by Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff on Feb. 6, will encourage and facilitate the lawful employment of foreign agricultural workers while ensuring the integrity of the H-2A program.

The proposed rule is designed to remove unnecessary limitations on H-2A employers while preventing fraud and abuse, and protecting the rights of temporary workers. Some of the key modifications to the rule include:
  • Extend from 10 to 30 days the time a temporary agricultural worker may remain in the United States following the expiration of the H-2A petition;
  • Reduce from six months to three months the time an H-2A worker must wait outside the United States before they are eligible to re-obtain H-2A status;
  • Allow H-2A workers who are changing from one H-2A employer to another to begin work with the new petitioning employer upon the filing of a new H-2A petition, provided the new employer participates in USCIS’ E-Verify program;
  • Require an employer attestation regarding the scope of the H-2A employment and the use of recruiters to locate H-2A workers;
  • Crack down on employers and recruiters who impose fees on prospective H-2A workers;
  • Require an approved temporary labor certification in connection with all H-2A petitions;
  • Prohibit the approval of H-2A petitions for nationals of countries determined to be consistently refusing or unreasonably delaying repatriation of their nationals; and
  • Establish a land-border exit system pilot program, which ensures that foreign workers admitted through a port of entry participating in the H-2A program must depart through a similar port that also participates in the program.
Note: USCIS will accept public comments until March 31.

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