H2-A Guestworker Visa Replacement Legislation Passes Vital Hurdle Next Step is to Request Necessary Improvements

November 03, 2017

The Ag Act includes several key concepts sought by agriculture -including provisions to:
• Cover year-round employers;
• Broaden scope of eligible agricultural employers -including food processors;
• Expand length of visas up to 36-months;
• Allow experienced unauthorized agricultural workers to participate in the H-2C program;
• Transferrer the U.S. Department of Labor's current duties and enforcement responsibilities (under the H-2A program) to U.S. Department of Agriculture; and
• Provide for an "at-will" component of the H-2C program, where growers may employ H-2C workers without first having to petition for them.
In addition, during the Committees consideration of the bill, new amendments were revealed -and approved. The Commission continues to evaluate the impact of these amendments. Current issues that need to be clarified or corrected include:
• The system to adjust the number of visas that can be issued each year;
• Providing legal status to current workers in the U.S. who apply for an H2C visa;
• Improving the "touchback" provision for workers to be eligible for an H2C visa;
• Allowing agriculture to access the green card system in the future; and
• Ensuring implementation of the H2C program before implementation of new enforcement
policies or increased screening, such as e-verify
Committee passage marks a vital step in the legislative process, however, more hurdles remain -
including approval by the full House, the Senate, and the President.
The commission has long been engaged on immigration reform and the need for a workable
agricultural guest worker program. Commission staff will continue to meet and work with
Congressional members and staff on these matters. Additional updates will follow as this bill moves
through the legislative process.
To view the press release, visit: http://link.calstrawberry.com/bd82
To view the text of the bill and amendments, visit: http://link.calstrawberry.com/house740d
Please contact the commission's public policy office at 916.445.3335 with any questions.