Labor department makes changes to H-2A visa

Apr 30, 2024


On Friday, the Labor Department announced a rule change that will change protections for farmworkers on H-2A visas, which will take effect on June 28. The rule introduces several so-called protections, including the ability for workers to decline participation in employer-sponsored meetings that discourage labor organizing and the right to invite labor representatives to their housing facilities.

The rule also enhances transportation safety measures for these workers and clarifies the stringent conditions required for "for cause" termination, ensuring workers are aware of the policies that affect their employment status. It also restricts employers from retaining workers' identification documents, aiming to prevent abuses such as human trafficking and other forms of mistreatment.

These regulations come in the wake of findings that highlight significant abuse within the sector, including a notable case involving a Georgia onion farm charged with human trafficking and providing inhumane working conditions.

Critics from farm groups, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, argue that these new rules impose heavy compliance burdens on farmers, especially amid existing challenges like labor shortages and rising costs. They contend that the regulations presume guilt among farmers, complicating the H-2A visa process unnecessarily.

The update signifies a crucial step forward in protecting farmworkers from exploitation and ensuring their rights are upheld, marking a significant move by the federal government to support some of the most vulnerable workers in the agricultural industry.

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