U.S. tightens rules for skilled visas
By Diane Stafford
The U.S. Labor Department on Friday issued new rules for the H-2B immigration program governing temporary, non-agricultural workers.
The department said the changes were designed to give U.S. workers greater access to jobs.
According to Labor Department rules, the H-2B program permits foreign workers to hold U.S. jobs temporarily “when qualified U.S. workers are not available, and the employment of those foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers.”
The program limits H-2B visas to 66,000 a year. Many of the visas are used to hire foreign-born high-tech, science and health care workers.
The new rules require:
• Creation of a national registry for all H-2B job postings.
• Lengthening the amount of time to recruit U.S. workers before hiring H-2B workers.
• Rehiring former U.S. employees, when available, before filling jobs with H-2B workers.
Department of Labor officials said the rules are expected to provide “enhanced transparency throughout the employment process.”
The rules become effective April 23. They can be viewed online at http://s.dol.gov/MZ and will be published Feb. 21 in the Federal Register.