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Advance Copy of DOL Proposed Rule for H-2A Herders

April 14, 2015 (1 min read)

Temporary Agricultural Employment of H-2A Foreign Workers in the Herding or Production of Livestock on the Open Range in the United States

"The Department of Labor (Department) is proposing to amend its regulations governing certification of the employment of nonimmigrant workers in temporary or seasonal agricultural employment under the H-2A program to codify certain
procedures for employers seeking to hire foreign temporary agricultural workers for job opportunities in sheepherding, goat herding and production of livestock on the open range. Such procedures must be consistent with the Secretary’s statutory responsibility to ensure that there are no able, willing, qualified and available U.S. workers to perform these jobs, and that the employment of foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of workers in the United States similarly employed.

Before the current rulemaking, variances from the general H-2A regulatory requirements were established and revised for these occupations through sub-regulatory guidance, i.e. “special procedures,” that were issued in the form of separate Field Memoranda or Training and Employment Guidance Letters. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit recently ruled that the existing special procedures for sheepherding, goat herding and open range production of livestock are not interpretive rules but rather include substantive departures from established regulatory requirements necessitating notice and comment rulemaking under the Administrative Procedure Act. This proposed rule provides the public with the notice and opportunity to comment on proposed procedures to be followed in the filing and processing of applications involving herding and production of livestock on the open range. Among the issues addressed are the qualifying criteria for employing foreign workers in the applicable job opportunities, preparing job orders, program obligations of employers, filing of H-2A applications requesting temporary labor certification, recruiting U.S. workers, determining the minimum offered wage rate, and the minimum standards for mobile housing on the open range. The Department’s goal is to establish a single set of regulations enabling employers seeking to hire foreign temporary agricultural workers for both herding and production of livestock on the open range to comply with their obligations under the H-2A program given the unique characteristics of these job opportunities in their industry." - FR Doc. 2015-08505 Filed: 4/14/2015 08:45 am; Publication Date: 4/15/2015.