The Border Security, Economic Opportunity, and Immigration Modernization Act of 2013 (S. 744), introduced last month to address comprehensive immigration reform, includes language to replace the H-2A visa program currently utilized by horse farms. The new, temporary agricultural foreign worker program would be easier to use and be administered by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) rather than the Department of Labor (DOL).
Under the proposed legislation, there would be two work visa options: 1) a portable, at-will employment-based visa; and 2) a contract-based visa program. The visas would be viable for up to 3 years and could be renewed one time. H-2A visas are currently valid for only 10 months.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled four mark-up sessions for the proposed legislation in the month of May. The first mark up session is scheduled for May 9. The NTRA will report developments here.
H-2B Update: The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) resumed processing H-2B visa petitions on April 25, 2013. USCIS had temporarily suspended processing petitions in response to a Pennsylvania court order that barred the DOL from making any further “prevailing wage determinations” in certain situations, including the petition process to bring H-2B workers into the country.