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Mixed Response to Changes in Guest Worker Program

February 24, 2012
Plain English Version

The Obama administration is making changes to the nation’s guest worker program known as H-2B. The program allows for the hiring of foreign migrants in non-agricultural work.

Under the new rules, employers must use a new electronic registry to post jobs they are trying to fill with H-2B workers. Employers will have to recruit American workers first. Employers will also have to work with state agencies to show they could not find American workers for the jobs.

The H-2B program is used by many kinds of seasonal, mostly small, businesses, including seafood fishermen and processors, amusement parks and hotels and landscapers.

Advocates for guest workers like the program changes. They said it would be harder for employers to exploit foreign migrants. It also protects American workers by increasing the cost of hiring foreign workers.

Employers will have to pay some transportation costs to bring workers to America and send them home when the job is done. They must also pay for three-quarters of the period of the contract even if there is no work

The U.S. Labor Department said the changes provide stronger protections for every worker.

Employers using the program regularly said the new rules make the hiring process too slow and cumbersome for their seasonal businesses and would ultimately lead to the loss of American jobs.

The new rules take effect April 23, 2012

The New York Times


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