Last May, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) along with the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of State, announced a coordinated effort to modernize and streamline the application process for the H-2A temporary agricultural visa program. This is welcome news to our industry.
On October 25, 2018, DOL proposed changes to the H-2A temporary agricultural visa program application forms, instructions and information collected during the H-2A process. DOL seeks public comment by December 24, 2018, related to the following revisions:
Application Form (ETA-9142A)
The H-2A application form serves as a basis for determination that qualified U.S. workers are unavailable to perform necessary labor and that U.S. wages will not be adversely affected by the employment of temporary H-2A workers. The proposed changes to the form eliminates the need for duplicative information on multiple forms, and replaces some paper certifications with electronic options, ultimately saving precious time previously spent waiting for mail.
Form Appendix A
Appendix A is used by employers to attest that they will comply with all requirements of the H-2A program. Changes in the appendix include updating such language as “there are no U.S. workers available” to “there are insufficient U.S. workers available.” The changes would also remove unnecessary duplication of information, particularly relevant when all proposed changes are incorporated within DOL’s iCERT Visa Portal System.
On November 9, 2018, DOL and DHS announced an additional H-2A program proposal regarding employer recruitment requirements. Comments for this proposed regulation are requested by December 10, 2018, for the following recruitment changes:
DOL is proposing a change to the required newspaper print advertisements, replacing them with online electronic advertisements. This is an effort to update, simplify, and modernize recruitment efforts, while still providing job opportunities to potential U.S. employees.
According to DOL, all proposed revisions will standardize and streamline the application process to reduce employer paperwork burden, while increasing efficiencies at the department.
As you know, H-2A regulations have a significant impact on agricultural labor, especially in the Western United States. Western Growers views these comments as positive incremental changes to improve the efficiency of, and reduce some of the costs associated with, the H-2A program. If you utilize the H-2A program and/or would like to share comments, follow the instructions below to file comments on the proposed changes. Please note that all comments made, including personal information provided through the process will be posted publicly on www.regulations.gov. Western Growers, in consultation with members, will also be filing comments on this important issue.
To submit comments specifically related to the forms and general instructions, please submit via email to ETA.OFLC.Forms@dol.gov and reference OMB Control Number 1205-0466.
To submit comments related to the proposed recruitment changes (RIN 1205-AB90), CLICK HERE
For more information on the H-2A program, please visit the US Department of Labor Website.