Department of Labor Announces Final Rule on H-2B to Improve Temporary Nonagricultural Worker Program

 
Monday, February 13, 2012
 

The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration and its Wage and Hour Division 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.

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.Major features of the final rule include the creation a national electronic job registry for all H-2B job orders to improve U.S. worker access to these temporary jobs. The final rule also enhances recruitment of U.S. workers from across the country, increases the amount of time for which U.S. workers must be recruited and hired, and requires the rehiring of former employees when available.

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.


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