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New York, New York - May 1, 2015

H-2B Visa Regulations
 
On April 29, 2015 the Department of Labor, in conjunction with the Department of Homeland Security, issued long awaited regulations to greatly improve protections for persons coming to the U.S. on H-2B visas to work in temporary, seasonal jobs. As the program is currently constituted, labor trafficking flourished and foreign and U.S. workers alike frequently suffered from depressed wages and exploitative conditions. We applaud the government’s actions.
 
In terms of protections during recruitment overseas, Global Workers’ primary focus, we are encouraged to see important measures to reduce exploitation. A guaranteed contract ensures that workers who invest thousands to come will be assured to at least earn ¾ of what was promised.  Providing a contract to workers before they leave the country of origin assures that they know the conditions that the employer promised to the government and the recruiters’ promises align.  Another key improvement is the requirement that a job contractor, or US intermediary, must also prove temporary need for labor and if not, must apply with the end-beneficiary employer.  Much human trafficking occurs when middle people are bringing in workers, not the companies who will ultimately employ the worker on the property that they control. Other notable advances are the requirements that the employer covers or reimburses the workers for most of the cost of recruitment and disclosure of the recruiter supply chain, which allows for accountability and oversight of the recruitment process.
 
The government is now accepting comments from the public and will issue final regulations this fall. Global Workers submitted comments strongly in favor of the regulations.  If any changes are considered, we hope they are only to strengthen the protections, not decrease them due to political pressure. 
 
Though these regulations are welcome by many sectors, there are certain employers and Congressional members that oppose them.  We are dealing with multiple attacks.  First, a handful of employers sued to halt the regulations in court.  Though we do not expect the suit to ultimately be successful, it is a waste of government resources to defend the lawsuit and is a distraction.  Second, as of this writing, Congress is considering restricting the Department of Labor’s budget to enact these regulations, essentially cherry picking the regulations they like and do not like.  
 
Global Workers is part of the effort to raise the voices that support these good protections and, as always, creating conditions to reduce the exploitation of U.S and foreign workers. 
 
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