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October 2020, Volume 26, Number 4

H-2A; H-2B

DOL certified 12,750 farm employers to fill 252,700 farm jobs with H-2A workers during the first 10.5 months of FY20, pointing to more H-2A employers and certified jobs than in 2019, when 258,000 jobs were certified. The top five states accounted for 45 percent of the FY20 jobs certified: Washington, 26,700; Georgia, 24,200; Florida, 21,400; North Carolina 20,700; and California, 20,600. Almost 40 percent of H-2A jobs were certified to farm labor contractors.

DOL began to report jobs by occupation rather than commodity in FY20, and 88 percent of the occupation titles were crop farm worker and laborer.

USDA in September 2020 announced that it would not collect the employment and earnings data from farm employers that is used to set Adverse Effect Wage Rates. The October 2020 survey was scheduled to collect data for the week that includes the 12th of the month of July and October.

The owners of H-2A Placement Services of Rancho Cucamonga and J&D Harvesting in Santa Paula, California were fined for charging workers in Mexico and unauthorized Mexicans in the US up to $3,000 for H-2A visas. J&D requested the visas to harvest avocados and lemons in Ventura county, while H-2A Placement recruited the workers. Workers employed by J&D cashed their pay checks at a Santa Paula store that deducted charges levied by H-2A Placement.

H-2B. DHS in June 2020 banned further issuance of H-2B and J-1 visas for foreigners who often fill seasonal US jobs through the end of 2020. Businesses that have depended on these foreign workers complained about the sudden cut off of foreign workers, which DHS justified by high US unemployment rates.

Some employers sued, arguing that DHS should have first proven that H-2B and J-1 workers displace US workers before banning them. Critics counter that US firms should redouble their efforts to hire US workers.

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