Guest Worker Reform Proposed

Legislation introduced in the US House in early November by
Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Ohio, would increase the availability of visas for the
federal guest worker program utilized by the seafood industry and others to
fill jobs during peak periods.
H.R. 3918, the Strengthen Employment And Seasonal
Opportunities Now (SEASON) would increase the availability of H-2B visas by not
counting a foreign worker receiving an H-2B visa for a given year against that
year’s cap if that worker received a visa in any of the three prior years,
Chabot said, in a statement announcing the legislation.
“Rather than just indiscriminately raising the H-2B cap,
this approach places the emphasis on encouraging successful participants to
return to the program.”
H.R. 3918 would require, as does current legislation, that
employers first attempt to hire domestic workers for seasonal positions. The
employers must certify to the Department of Homeland Security that they
attempted to recruit domestic workers for the position and that they offered
the same terms and working conditions to the foreign worker that they offered
to domestic workers.
Chabot said that every year thousands of employers turn to
foreign workers through the H-2B visa program to meet temporary, seasonal
employment needs, but that the number of available visas for seasonal workers
is inadequate to meet the existing demand.
The current program’s annual cap of 66,000 H-2B visas is
inadequate and often reached early in the year, leaving many employers unable
to meet their seasonal employment needs, he said.
Chabot’s bill would remove the Labor Department from the
regulatory process and put administration of the program solely under the
Department of Homeland Security.
The legislation also includes a prohibition on temporary
foreign workers receiving federal benefits, including federal health care
subsidies and refundable tax credits.
To ensure that the program is truly a temporary program,
H.R. 3918 requires that any position being filled by a foreign worker will last
no longer than one year and occur within a peak season, Chabot said.

Bill information is at