Final rule modernizes H-2A certification program
On. Jan. 15, The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a final rule that modernizes the H-2A Temporary Agricultural Labor Certification Program.
The Department’s Employment and Training Administration and Wage and Hour Division issued this final rule in response to the extensive public comments received from farmers, farmworkers, as well as advocates and associations for both groups from across the country, according to a DOL press release.
The rule mandates electronic filing of job orders and applications, bringing the H-2A application process into the digital era. The DOL said this will harness the power of electronic filing through the Foreign Labor Application Gateway system to share information with federal agencies like the Department of Homeland Security, and with State Workforce Systems and domestic farmworkers.
It also provides small employers that cannot offer full-time work for their H-2A employees with an opportunity to participate in the H-2A program by establishing new standards that permit individual employers possessing the same need for agricultural services or labor to file a single application and job order to employ workers jointly in full-time employment.
Additionally, the rule will provide additional flexibilities that will reduce unnecessary burdens on the agricultural employers that use the program. These flexibilities include the ability to stagger the entry of workers into the country over a 120-day period, allowing agricultural employers the flexibility to file a single application for different start dates of need within a certified employment period instead of filing multiple applications.
The DOL said the rule will strengthen protections for U.S. and foreign workers by enhancing standards applicable to rental housing and public accommodations, strengthening surety bond requirements, and expanding the Department’s authority to use enforcement tools like program debarment for substantial violations of program rules.
Learn more about H-2A Temporary Agricultural Labor Certification Program at www.dol.gov/agencies/eta/foreign-labor/programs/h-2a. The Department will publish the final rule in the Federal Register at a later date.