New H2B Rules Provide Better Security for Workers and Employers

A new H2B visas rule change may make it easier for undocumented workers to find employment, according to the United States Department of Labor.

The department announced a new final rule on February 21 that will give temporary foreign workers greater access to jobs and worker’s rights.

Recent statistics show that the number of H2B visas approved has drastically declined in recent years. While more than 94,000 of these U.S. visas were approved in 2008, this number dropped to less than 45,000 in 2009 – less than half of the previous year’s total. While rates have increased slightly in recent years, numbers have still stayed below 50,000. The current program is limited to 66,000 visas per year. Learn more about immigration statistics here.

The rule is in large part written through the comments of employers and worker advocates, who assisted in drafting the final rule. Slated to come into effect on April 23, the new rule also requires the creation of a national registry posting all H2B job postings. Giving both workers and employers greater flexibility, the new rule also improves the recruitment process as well as the length of time workers can be employed. Former employees will be hired when available as well under the new set of rules, so a certain sense of job security can also come with the program.

According to Indiana local news source the Brown County Democrat, H2A visas also are in need of reformation. While the visa program offers a legal alternative for hiring foreign help in agricultural work, current processing for the visas can take months for approval, making the program extremely inefficient for those working within a certain time range for growing seasons.