House Approves Overhaul of Migrant Farmworker Laws

Bill proposes major changes to the H-2A visa program, mandatory E-Verify

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer December 13, 2019
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House Approves Overhaul of Migrant Farmworker Laws

​The U.S. House of Representatives voted Dec. 11 to reform the nation's migrant farm workforce laws. Passage in the Senate is considered a longshot.

We've rounded up resources and articles from SHRM Online and other trusted outlets on the news.

[SHRM members-only toolkit: Obtaining U.S. Employment Visas]

Compromise Legislation

The bipartisan but contested Farm Workforce Modernization Act would make a number of reforms to the H-2A visa program for temporary agricultural workers, offer legal status to hundreds of thousands of undocumented foreign national farmworkers and require the use of E‑Verify among agriculture employers.

SHRM advocates for a "reliable, entirely electronic employment verification system that integrates the Form I-9, provides users a good faith defense and allows employers to confirm with certainty a new hire's identity and work authorization."

(SHRM Online)

Decried as Mass Amnesty

The proposal met with strong resistance from some Republicans who said that the bill would grant amnesty to over one million undocumented farmworkers, their spouses and children.

(Fox News)

Farmworker Recruitment Moved Online

Employers seeking to hire migrant farmworkers under the H-2A visa program no longer have to run print ads in newspapers to recruit for open positions. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) moved the recruitment process online effective October 21.

(SHRM Online)

More H-2A Visa Reforms on Deck

Separately, the DOL proposed new regulations in July that would change the way the department reviews employers' labor certification applications for the H-2A visa program, including requiring electronic filing, updating wage rates and providing hiring flexibility.

(SHRM Online)

Competing Proposals to Address Foreign Farm Labor Program

Republicans have continually pushed for a replacement of the H-2A temporary visa program, while Democrats seek legal status for the mostly undocumented farmworkers as a starting point of any overhaul.

(SHRM Online)

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