The U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division announced it is conducting a nationwide initiative to strengthen compliance with the labor provisions of the H-2B temporary visa program in the landscaping industry. The initiative includes providing compliance assistance tools and information to employers and stakeholders, as well as conducting investigations of employers using this program.
"The H-2B visa program includes specific requirements employers must follow to participate," said Bryan Jarrett, Wage and Hour Division Acting Administrator. "This initiative demonstrates our commitment to educate employers about those rules and enforce them to safeguard American jobs, protect guest workers, and level the playing field for law-abiding employers."
Last year, WHD investigations found more than $105 million in back wages for more than 97,000 workers in industries with a high prevalence of H-2B workers, including the landscaping industry. A key component of the investigations is ensuring that employers recruit U.S. workers before applying for permission to employ temporary nonimmigrant workers.
The H-2B nonimmigrant program permits employers to temporarily hire nonimmigrant workers from outside the United States to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the United States. The employment must be temporary in nature, such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal need, or intermittent need. The landscaping industry employs more H-2B workers than any other industry.
Before employers can be approved to request guest workers under the H-2B program, they must file an application with the Department stating that:
· An insufficient number of U.S. employees are qualified and available to work; and
· The employment of non-immigrant, temporary workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
For more information about the labor provisions of the H-2B program and other laws that WHD enforces, contact the toll-free helpline at 866-4US-WAGE (487-9243). Information is also available at www.dol.gov/whd.