Source: PR Newswire

U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis announced a new rule regarding the H-2A program last week. The Labor Department is publishing its rule in the Feb. 12 edition of the Federal Register, a final rule governing the labor certification process and enforcement mechanisms for the H-2A temporary agricultural worker program. The final rule is being published to strengthen worker protections for both U.S. and foreign workers and to ensure overall H-2A program integrity, according to Solis. The rule will be effective March 15, 2010.

The H-2A nonimmigrant visa classification applies to foreign workers coming to or already in the U.S. to perform agricultural work of a temporary or seasonal nature. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security may not approve an H-2A visa petition unless the Department of Labor, through its Employment and Training Administration, certifies that there are not sufficient U.S. workers qualified and available to perform the labor involved in the petition and that the employment of the foreign worker will not have an adverse effect on the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

The American Farm Bureau Federation was quick to condemn the new rule. "Claims of needed worker protections as justification for the new rule are unfounded and an affront to America's farmers and ranchers," AFBF President Bob Stallman said.

Original press release

Read the Farm Bureau statement.