Legislation has been filed by Trent Kelly, a US Republican lawmaker, in an attempt to ease the paperwork process that agricultural workers have to go through for hiring overseas workers under H-2A visa scheme.
Kelly, a member of the House Agriculture Committee, wants to simplify red-tapism tied to the H-2A guest worker program, a visa category under which non-citizens can enter the United States to be employed in agricultural work for 10 months or fewer. According to him, the program’s administration was arduous and slow.
Kelly was quoted by Caleb Bedillion Daily Journal as saying in a written statement that the 1st District farmers have to put up with bureaucratic hurdles when they apply for seasonal workers. Saying that they are made to wait frequently for 30 days or more for applications to be processed, which can affect their work, he added that it was unacceptable. This sensible legislation helps revamp and simplify the application process, he added.
Introduced in the third week of July, his bill is being touted as the ‘Paperwork Reduction for Farmers Act.’ Kelly is the primary sponsor of the bill in the House without any co-sponsors as of now. Usually, for the H-2A program, an employer must lodge a petition on behalf of prospective migrant labor. The US employer is required to show that there is a shortage of available, eligible or willing domestic labor. The petitioner also needs to show that by recruiting foreign workers the wages won’t be hurt of US workers who are employed in similar occupations.
The main provisions of the Senate and House bills filed by Kelly and two other lawmakers allows US employers to file labor petitions electronically through an online portal that the Department of Labor creates; lets multiple employers file a joint petition for overseas workers; eases the process for employers who want to recruit returning employees, as returning employees are considered new applicants under the current law; reduces paperwork by accepting a single application requiring approval for employees with start and end dates, which are staggered, within one fiscal year; broadens the program’s scope by including dairy, livestock, poultry and equine workers as suitable for the H-2A visa program; and if seasonal recruits don’t join work or leave in advance, the Department of Labor is directed by the bill to promptly grant visas to qualified replacement workers that the employers have designated.
The H-2A visa, which is issued to agricultural workers, has no annual quota, unlike H-2B visa.
The Department of Labor agreed in early July to increase one-time 15,000 H-2B visas in 2017. If you are looking to work in the US, get in touch with Y-Axis, a reputed consultancy for immigration services, to apply for a work visa.
If you are looking to work in the US, get in touch with Y-Axis, a reputed consultancy for immigration services, to apply for a work visa.