Under changes published by the U.S. Labor Department, companies that seek H-2A visas for agricultural workers will have to provide documented evidence that they have looked for qualified U.S. citizens to fill the jobs. Previously, they only had to indicate they had looked for qualified workers. The rule will be effective March 15, 2010.
The agency said, in announcing the changes, that the Department of Homeland Security may not approve an H-2A visa petition unless the Department of Labor, through its Employment and Training Administration, certifies that there are not sufficient U.S. workers qualified and available to perform the labor involved in the petition and that the employment of the foreign worker will not have an adverse effect on the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman says the new program will be the most difficult ever for agricultural employers to administer.
"Is it the right policy of the United States to require that only those who are legally eligible to work in this country should be given U.S. jobs?" Stallman said. "It is the responsibility of the administration and Congress to authorize a useful program that enables capable, dependable and willing employees to come to the U.S. temporarily to do the jobs that domestic workers don't want."