U.S. Labor Dept. proposes new guest-worker visa rules

The Daily Record Newswire

The Department of Labor has proposed new regulations that would require employers to document their attempts to hire American workers before employing foreign guest workers.

The H-2B program allows foreign workers to enter the United States temporarily to take jobs when qualified U.S. workers are not available, and when employing foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of American workers.

In 2008, the Labor Department issued final rules allowing employers to hire guest workers simply by attesting that no U.S. workers were available for a particular position.

Since then, audits have revealed that ''employers are attesting to compliance with program obligations with which they have not complied, and that employers do not appear to be recruiting, hiring and paying U.S. workers, and in some cases the H-2B workers themselves, in accordance with established program requirements,'' according to the agency's comments accompanying the proposed rule, which was published in the March 18 Federal Register.

''As our economy continues to recover, it is important for U.S. workers to receive access to all jobs, and that the H-2B program is used as it was intended,'' said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis in a statement announcing the proposed rulemaking.

''At the same time, workers employed through the H-2B program must be treated fairly.''

As an alternative to the demonstration-model, the agency concurrently proposed ''the alternative of maintaining the current or some modification of the current attestation-based program design,'' and asked specifically for comment on how to increase compliance, reduce errors and augment the audit process.

The Labor Department is accepting public comment on the proposed rule, RIN 1205-AB58, at www.regulations.gov through May 17.

Published: Mon, Apr 11, 2011

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