Ross Introduces Legal Agricultural Workforce Act

Press Release

By:  Dennis Ross
Date: Jan. 15, 2013
Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross (FL-15) introduced the Legal Agricultural Workforce Act yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives. This legislation will provide for a new type of Visa, the W-Visa, to allow non-U.S. citizens to legally participate in the agriculture economy of the United States while continuing to provide protections for American workers and taxpayers.

"We have a serious need for assistance on our farms and groves," said Ross. "This legislation provides an opportunity for non-U.S. citizens to participate in our thriving agriculture sector while providing protections for U.S. citizen agricultural employees."

The Legal Agricultural Workforce Act:
* Establishes a market-based nonimmigrant agricultural worker program administered by the Department of Agriculture, in consultation with the Department of Homeland Security
o Program allows for worker portability across employers enrolled in the program
o Allows admission for nonimmigrant agricultural workers for 10 months in any 12-month period
o Numerical limitations on the issuance of nonimmigrant visas will be based on historical employment needs of agricultural employers
* Provides protections for U.S. citizen agricultural workers
o Employers must recruit US workers before applying to enroll in the nonimmigrant agricultural visa program
o Employers may not displace active U.S. workers
o Preferences must be provided for qualified U.S. workers
o Nonimmigrant workers may not be employed to cover positions of employees engaged in labor disputes
* Includes security protections
o Nonimmigrant agricultural workers may not enter the country if they violated a term of their previous entry within the last 3 years
o Any nonimmigrant agricultural worker who commits a crime in the U.S. shall be ineligible to retain their status, and will be required to leave the country
o Disqualifies nonimmigrant agricultural visa recipients from federal financial assistance
* Funding information
o Trust funds established by the Secretary of Agriculture and financed by the employers and nonimmigrant agricultural employees will finance the administration of the program
o Trust funds will also provide a monetary incentive for nonimmigrant agricultural workers to return to their country of origin once their visas expire