U.S. DOL, Guatemala reach agreement to improve H-2A
On July 30, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) signed a bi-lateral cooperative agreement with Guatemala to facilitate increased transparency, accountability, and worker safety in the H-2A nonimmigrant visa program for temporary agricultural workers from Guatemala, according to a DOL press release.
Through this agreement, the Guatemalan government will provide additional safeguards for temporary workers by certifying that labor recruiters are vetted and registered with their government. The agreement is intended to complement existing U.S. laws and strengthen the protections for U.S. workers as well as prospective Guatemalan H-2A workers by ensuring Guatemalan H-2A workers are less susceptible to criminal actions and are not charged excessive fees as part of the H-2A nonimmigrant visa program, potentially undercutting U.S. workers. Additionally, these safeguards will assist U.S. employers who utilize the H-2A nonimmigrant visa program to seek workers from Guatemala by providing additional transparency and accountability concerning foreign labor recruiters’ compliance with U.S. and Guatemalan law.
The H-2A nonimmigrant visa program allows American agricultural employers to hire seasonal workers from 85 eligible countries after the U.S. employer demonstrates that there are not sufficient, able, willing and qualified U.S. workers available at the time and place of need. Employers must show hiring foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers similarly employed. All H-2A nonimmigrant workers are vetted by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State prior to entering the United States.