Biden Administration Proposes Sweeping Changes to H-2A and H-2B Visa Programs
The Biden administration is looking to make sweeping changes to the H-2A and H-2B visa programs, which allow for temporary agricultural and non-agricultural workers. This proposed rule, still in the consideration process at USCIS, could create a pathway to citizenship for these foreign workers, something that has been done for H-1B workers in the past. It could also extend grace periods and allow H-2 workers to take steps towards becoming permanent residents without being deemed to have abandoned their nonimmigrant intent or their foreign residence.
The H-2A and H-2B programs are currently uncapped, and the Biden administration has already taken steps to increase the H-2B cap and provide an additional 65,000 visas for employers with seasonal or non-agricultural needs. The proposed rule would also strengthen prohibitions on immigration fees being collected from H-2 workers by their employers, and would introduce factors by which a petition could be denied based on disciplinary actions taken against an employer.
The Department of Homeland Security has stated that this proposed rule will allow H-2A and H-2B workers to begin work immediately upon the receipt of a properly filed petition, even if they are not eligible or denied in the end. This will help ensure that there are enough workers in the United States to meet the demand for these types of jobs.
Overall, the proposed rule could have severe and long-lasting repercussions, as it would create a potential pathway to citizenship for every foreign agriculture and low-skilled worker who is admitted to the U.S. It is important to note that this proposed rule could change the statute of the H-2A and H-2B visas, which currently do not allow for dual intent, and would require foreign workers to return home after completing their period of work.
0. “Biden admin mulls move to open pathways to green cards for temporary agricultural, seasonal migrant workers” Fox News, 19 Feb. 2023, https://www.foxnews.com/politics/biden-admin-mulls-move-open-pathways-green-cards-temporary-agricultural-seasonal-migrant-workers
1. “SCOOP: Biden Administration Plans to Circumvent the Law and Unilaterally Make Low-Skilled Guest Workers Permanent” Federation for American Immigration Reform, 20 Feb. 2023, https://www.fairus.org/blog/2023/02/20/scoop-biden-administration-plans-circumvent-law-and-unilaterally-make-low-skilled