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DOL/ETA RIN: 1205-AC12 Publication ID: Fall 2023 
Title: Improving Protections For Workers in Temporary Agricultural Employment in the United States 

The Department of Labor’s (DOL) Employment and Training Administration and Wage and Hour Division propose to amend regulations to improve working conditions and protections for workers engaged in temporary agricultural employment in the United States; and strengthen protections in the recruitment, job order clearance, and oversight processes. The proposed regulatory changes involve the Employment Service and the H-2A non-immigrant visa program at 29 CFR part 501 and 20 CFR parts 651, 653, 654, 655, and 658.

The Department has identified a need to strengthen and clarify protections for all temporary agricultural workers, including U.S. workers and workers employed through the H-2A temporary agricultural program. The H-2A temporary agricultural program allows agricultural employers to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature so long as there are not sufficient able, willing, and qualified U.S. workers to perform the work and the employment of H-2A workers does not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed workers in the United States. The use of the H-2A program has grown substantially in recent years and the Department is committed to protecting agricultural workers in light of their significant vulnerabilities.

Agency: Department of Labor(DOL)  Priority: Other Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage 
Major: Undetermined  Unfunded Mandates: No 
CFR Citation: 29 CFR 501    20 CFR 651    20 CFR 653    20 CFR 654    20 CFR 655    20 CFR 658   
Legal Authority: 8 U.S.C. 1188    29 U.S.C. 49 et seq.   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need:

The Department will propose revisions to the H-2A regulations and the Employment Service regulations that will strengthen protections for agricultural workers and enhance the Department’s enforcement capabilities against fraud and program violations. The Department has determined the proposed revisions will help prevent exploitation and abuse of agricultural workers and ensure that employers do not gain from their violations or contribute to economic and workforce instability by circumventing the law.  

Summary of the Legal Basis:

The Department’s proposals to strengthen protections and improve compliance are aimed at ensuring that the Department can better fulfill its statutory responsibility at 8 U.S.C. 1188(a)(1) to certify that:  (1) there are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services involved in the petition; and (2) the employment of H-2A workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of workers in the United States similarly employed, and its responsibility under the Wagner-Peyser Act at 29 U.S.C. 49b to effectively assist in coordinating the State public employment service offices throughout the country.


The Department has considered alternatives but believes that rulemaking to update the H-2A regulations and the Employment Service regulations is a reasonable approach to better ensure the necessary worker protections are available and enforceable.  

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

The Department estimates that the proposed rule would result in costs and transfer payments. As shown in Exhibit 1, the proposed rule is expected to have an annualized cost of $2.03 million and a total 10-year quantifiable cost of $14.24 million, each at a discount rate of 7 percent. The proposed rule is estimated to result in annual transfer payments from H-2A employers to H-2A employees of $12.81 million and total 10-year transfer payments of $89.95 million at a discount rate of 7 percent.   

The benefits are described above and include preventing exploitation of vulnerable workers and ensuring that employers do not benefit from exploitation.  


To be determined.

Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  09/15/2023  88 FR 63750   
NPRM Comment Period End  11/14/2023 
Final Rule  04/00/2024 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Yes  Government Levels Affected: Local, Tribal 
Small Entities Affected: Businesses, Governmental Jurisdictions  Federalism: No 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: Yes 
Agency Contact:
Brian Pasternak
Department of Labor
Employment and Training Administration
200 Constitution Avenue NW, Office of Foreign Labor Certification; Room N-5311, FP Building,
Washington, DC 20210
Phone:202 693-8200