The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration and its Wage and Hour Division have announced the final rule to better the H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker program.
The rule, which is set to publish in the Feb. 21 edition of the Federal Register, includes amendments to several parts of the program to ensure U.S. workers receive greater job access with stronger worker protections. With the H-2B program, foreign workers are allowed to enter the United States on a temporary basis when qualified U.S. workers are not available, and the employment of those foreign workers will not negatively impact the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers. Visas are now limited to a maximum of 66,000 per year.
"The H-2B program is designed to help businesses when there is a temporary shortage of U.S. workers," says 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 DOL says the new rule will provide employers with increased flexibility and certainty throughout the application and recruitment processes, and it will also improve U.S. workers' access to jobs. The final rule institutes a national registry for all H-2B job openings and expands the time period for which U.S. workers must be recruited. The rule also mandates that former employees should be rehired when available.
The H-2B program will also include U.S. workers undertaking the same work as H-2B workers, and the DOL says employment protections will also be strengthened by greater transparency throughout the employment process.
The rule will be effective starting April 23 and can be viewed here.