The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration and its Wage and Hour Division today announced a final rule to improve the H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker program. The rule, to be published in the Feb. 21 edition of the Federal Register, includes changes to several aspects of the program to ensure that U.S. workers receive greater access to jobs and strengthens worker protections.
The H-2B program allows the entry of foreign workers into the United States on a temporary basis when qualified U.S. workers are not available, and the employment of those foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers. The H-2B program is limited by law to a cap of 66,000 visas per year.
"The H-2B program is designed to help businesses when there is a temporary shortage of U.S. workers," said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. "The rule announced today will ensure that the program is used as intended by making these jobs more accessible to U.S. workers and providing stronger protections for every worker."
The department responded to comments received from employers and worker advocates in drafting the final rule, providing employers with greater flexibility and certainty throughout the application and recruitment processes as well as improving U.S. workers' access to jobs. The final rule creates a national registry for all H-2B job postings and increases the amount of time during which U.S. workers must be recruited. The rule also requires the rehiring of former employees when available.
In addition, H-2B program benefits such as transportation costs and wages will be extended to U.S. workers performing substantially the same work as H-2B workers. Worker protections also will be strengthened by enhanced transparency throughout the employment process.
The rule will be effective on April 23. It can be viewed at http://s.dol.gov/MZ. Materials, including fact sheets, are available at http://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/h-2b.cfm and http://www.dol.gov/whd/immigration/H2BFinalRule/index.htm.