DHS Proposes Rule to Enhance H-2 Visa Worker Protections

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has initiated measures to enhance the safeguards for temporary workers within the H-2A and H-2B temporary worker programs, both of which are designed to address labor shortages in the U.S. In a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM), DHS has put forward a proposal to modernize and enhance the H-2 programs by granting more flexibility and protections to participating workers, ultimately improving the program's efficiency.

These proposed reforms include reinforcing safeguards against employer exploitation of workers, with the addition of whistleblower protections. By doing so, the DHS aims to provide essential protection to the vulnerable population of temporary workers.

The H-2 programs enable certain U.S. employers or agents to bring foreign nationals into the United States for temporary jobs where there's a shortage of available and qualified U.S. workers. The proposed rule sets out eligibility criteria and consequences for program violations, including employer-imposed fees. It extends grace periods for workers seeking new employment, preparing for departure from the United States, or changing immigration status. The proposed rule also offers benefits to employers, making H-2 worker portability permanent, allowing employers to hire H-2 workers already in the U.S. while their petitions are pending.

The 60-day public comment period commences upon the NPRM's publication in the Federal Register.

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