A proposed rule that seeks to improve the H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker program has been published by the U.S. Department of Labor's Employment and Training Administration and its Wage and Hour Division. The rule includes changes to several aspects of the program to ensure that U.S. workers receive the same level of protections and benefits as temporary foreign workers recruited under the H-2B program, and to provide better access for employers with legitimate labor needs.

The H-2B program allows the entry of foreign workers into the U.S. on a temporary basis when qualified U.S. workers are not available and when the employment of those foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. The H-2B program is limited by law to a program cap of 66,000 visas per year.

To streamline and improve the process for employers, the proposed rule would create an H-2B registration process that allows employers to conduct labor market tests closer to their date of need before applying for a certification. It would also eliminate job contractors as users of the program.

To improve U.S. workers' access to jobs and increase worker protections, the rule proposes to create a national job registry for all H-2B job postings, requires employers to provide documentation that they have taken appropriate steps to recruit U.S. workers, reinstates the role of state workforce agencies in providing expertise on local labor market conditions and recruitment patterns, and increases the amount of time during which U.S. workers must be recruited.

Members of the public are invited to submit comments on the rule via the federal e-rulemaking portal at regulations.gov/.