Potential H-2B changes in the works

Requirements regarding how employers search for U.S. workers could be modernized
Potential changes to the H-2B application process could be coming. (Photo: Kostyantin Panki, Dreamstime)

The Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor issued a notice of proposed rulemaking in November that would bring the H-2B application process more in line with the 21st century and the reality of job seeking.

Under the H-2B visa program, employers with a seasonal need for labor can apply for a specified number of visas to bring temporary workers from other countries. Part of the application process includes providing proof that the employer has tried to hire American workers. Among the more archaic requirements in doing so requires employers to buy an ad in a printed newspaper for a minimum of two days, one of those days being a Sunday.

[Related: What happened to the H-2B program in 2018: Landscapes 2018]

The proposed rule would require employers to post a job listing on “any of a variety of websites that are widely viewed and appropriate for use by workers who are likely to apply for the job opportunity in the area of intended employment.” That could mean websites specifically designed for job searches, like Indeed.com or Monster.com, or the online version of a local publication’s job listings.

The notice specifies that if adopted, electronic job notices would replace rather than supplement printed notices because regulators “believe that exclusive electronic advertisements posted on a website appropriate for the workers likely to apply for the job opportunity in the area of intended employment would best ensure that U.S. workers learn of job opportunities.”

The proposal is also considering allowing listings on sites that aren’t necessarily local, but that serve the specific industry and have a local presence, such as a chapter website of a national industry association.

If accepted, listings must be public for at least 14 days and must be free for viewers to access. Other criteria, like a minimum number of unique views or whether employers can post job listings on their own websites, are still under consideration.

No public comments had been received by Dec. 10, the initial deadline. The departments extended the public comment period to Dec. 28. Interested parties have two ways to submit public comments:

  1. Visit regulations.gov and search for “Modernizing Recruitment Requirements for the Temporary Employment of H-2B Foreign Workers in the United States” or Docket No. ETA-2018-0003. Click the “Submit a Comment” button and follow the instructions.
  2. Mail comments to Adele Gagliardi, Administrator, Office of Policy Development and Research, U.S. Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Avenue NW, Room N-5641, Washington, DC 20210.

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