On Wednesday, the Department of Homeland Security and the Bush Administration announced a series of proposed improvements to the regulations governing the hiring of temporary and seasonal agricultural workers. The end goal of these modification is primarily to improve the process’ inefficiency – yet it is unclear whether the modifications will really make the process easier for farmers.

The new regulations are clearly a step in the right direction, but seem to place an unfair burden on those who want to participate in the program. Under the proposed rule, an agricultural employer only has to file one petition to bring temporary/seasonal agricultural workers and no longer has to know the names of the beneficiaries at the time they submit their petition. This certainly is an improvement as it reduces time and cost.

However, employers will need to adhere to a number of additional requirements that didn’t exist before or have increased the amount of required effort (agree to an audit/inspection, report changes to USCIS within a certain time frame, provide a written attestation, incur higher fines/penalties) with the proposed rule change. If the goal is to increase the use of the H2A Program, the new rule only seems to discourage a prospective employer from participating. To see a rise in the use of the H2A program, perhaps the Administration should consider proposing a rule that penalizes employers for not participating.