Saturday, February 11, 2012
The U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration and its Wage and Hour Division yesterday announced a final rule on the H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker program. The rule, to be published in the Feb. 21 edition of the Federal Register, changes several aspects of the program, which allows the entry of foreign workers into the United States on a temporary basis when qualified U.S. workers are not available, and the employment of those foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers. The H-2B program is limited by law to a cap of 66,000 visas per year.
The final rule creates a national registry for all H-2B job postings and increases the amount of time during which U.S. workers must be recruited. The rule requires the rehiring of former employees when available, and requires that H-2B program benefits such as transportation costs and wages be extended to U.S. workers performing substantially the same work as H-2B workers.
Though there may be some salutary parts of this rule, overall I think it's misguided. The U.S. has benefitted tremendously over the last 50 years by importing brainpower from all over the world. Restricting immigration of the world's best and brightest is hardly a prescription for long-term economic success.