MOUNT JULIET, Tenn. (DTN) -- Farmers have to post jobs domestically before they can hire foreign workers for seasonal agriculture work, but for years, the law governing H-2A visas required them to publish the job in newspapers.
That changes in October, according to a rule finalized by the Department of Labor on Friday.
Under the new rule, jobs can be posted to an improved version of the department's electronic job registry, https://seasonaljobs.dol.gov. The agency says the updated website is mobile-friendly, compatible with third-party job-search websites and will make it easier for Americans to find and fill open jobs. It also gives state workforce agencies greater ability to promote awareness of H-2A job opportunities.
The DOL's Office of Foreign Labor Certification also announced updates to the pertinent H-2A forms and online filing process, making some paper-only forms available for online submission.
Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said the changes will make it easier for farmers and ranchers to hire farm workers.
"By streamlining these processes, DOL is bringing the H-2A process into the 21st Century, allowing farmers to be able to better and cost-effectively advertise for workers they need and fill out the required forms faster and more efficiently, because no one should have to hire a lawyer to hire a farm worker," he said in a news release.
The rule also drew praise from the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA).
"Producers have been asking for this rule for years and now they will have the flexibility to advertise online, like any other employer," NASDA CEO Barbara Glenn said in a statement. "NASDA looks forward to continuing to work with the administration and Congress on changes that will ensure that our farmers and ranchers have access to the 21st century workforce they need."
The rule was first proposed in November 2018 and after incorporating feedback from the public comment period, the department made several changes, including the manner in which a job should be posted online. It goes into effect Oct. 21, 2019.
This rule is different than a more expansive proposal to reform the H-2A temporary agricultural worker visa program that the Trump administration proposed in July. That rule's comment period closes Tuesday, Sept. 24.
That rule would require farmers to file electronics applications for temporary employment certification instead of the current paper application process. It would also set new methods for determining wages for immigrant workers and establish a 30-day rule to require employers to provide employment to any "qualified, eligible" U.S. worker who applies for the job 30 days before the employer's first date of need for temporary workers.
It also allows farmers to stagger the date of workers' entry into the United States without filing multiple applications. For more background on that proposal, please see https://www.dtnpf.com/…
Katie Dehlinger can be reached at Katie.email@example.com
© Copyright 2019 DTN/The Progressive Farmer. All rights reserved.