New H-2A Rule Makes Progress on Worker Protections, But Further Reforms Needed

On October 12, 2022, the US Department of Labor (DOL) published a final rule amending the regulations of the H-2A temporary agricultural work visa program (the “2022 H-2A Rule”). Farmworker Justice welcomes the 2022 H-2A Rule’s limited improvements to worker protections and the standards that prospective H-2A employers must meet to obtain DOL certification. The impact of other changes, such as a new methodology for critically important prevailing wage determinations, remains unclear.

What is clear is that this rule does not go far enough to make the structural reforms that are necessary to confront the widespread abuse of US and foreign farmworkers in the H-2A program. The H-2A visa puts a worker’s legal status under the control of their employer, creating a power imbalance that too often results in exploitation and violation of workers’ rights. These workers need more than limited technical changes to achieve a truly safe and fair workplace[…]