Long-awaited H-2A Modernization Proposal Unveiled

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The Department of Labor (DOL) has posted on its website a copy of the long-awaited H-2A modernization proposed rule. The official version should appear in the Federal Register during the week of July 22.

The rulemaking intends to streamline the process by which DOL reviews employers’ applications for temporary agricultural labor certifications. Proposed changes to current regulations focus on modernizing the H-2A program and eliminating inefficiencies. Some proposed changes would:

  • Make it easier for employers to modify an approved job order, subject to limitations;
  • Allow employers to “stagger” entry of workers during the first 120 days of a contract;
  • Limits the so-called “50% rule” under which an employer must continue to hire any willing and qualified domestic workers who apply during the first half of the contract. The hiring rule would be limited to 30 days after the start of the contract or the full length of the “staggered entry” period if longer than 30 days;

The proposal would not change the existing housing requirement. It also features a lengthy discussion on H-2A wages, and invites comment on that as well as a number of other important issues. AmericanHort is closely studying the proposal and will develop official comments in close collaboration with other interested employer stakeholders. Once the official version is published, there will be a 60 day comment period.

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