Tuesday, May 27, 2008

New Rules for H-2B Visas

If you’ve been following the news lately, you may have seen the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has proposed new regulations that aim to modernize the H-2B temporary worker program. Among the proposed changes, temporary workers with H-2B visas would be able to stay in the U.S. up to three years.

Also included in the reforms:

• Employers would file applications directly with DOL, instead of first filing with the State Workforce Agencies.
• Employers would be required to attest, under threat of penalties, that they have fully complied with all program requirements, instead of the current, more cumbersome process.
• Enhanced worker protections
• A process for appealing a DOL denial of a labor certification

You can read the proposed regulatory changes published in the Federal Register, or if you’re short on time, an overview of the proposed changes is available here.

Seasonal businesses, such as those in the attractions industry, often rely on a temporary international work force to make up for a shortfall in American workers. Up until last year, returning workers under the H-2B visa program were exempt from the annual 66,000 cap on visas; however Congress failed to renew that provision in the current 110th Congress. IAAPA supports the reinstatement of the returning worker exemption program. While the new rules ease some of the burdens on business, they are by no means a replacement for the returning worker exemption.

IAAPA encourages members who use the H-2B visa program to file formal comments on the proposed rules with the U.S. Department of Labor. You may submit a comment electronically here. Comments are due to DOL July 7, 2008.

IAAPA will also be submitting a formal comment on the proposed changes. Should you wish for us to include your feedback in our comments, please e-mail them to us by Friday, June 20, 2008.

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