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Guidance aligns with department regulations, International Labor Organization’s guidelines

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Departments of Labor and State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development today issued “Guidance on Fair Recruitment Practices for Temporary Migrant Workers,” with principles and guidelines on preventing abuse of prospective workers.

The guidance is part of a multi-agency effort to promote best practices by those countries seeking to increase participation in the H-2A program for temporary agricultural workers and the H-2B program for seasonal non-agricultural workers, along with recruiters and employers who rely on these programs.

“This collaborative effort by the Departments of Labor and State, and the U.S. Agency for International Development will help protect prospective workers in the H-2A and H-2B programs from abuse,” said Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh. “The guidance announced today is intended to increase transparency and regulation of H-2A and H-2B worker recruitment programs and safeguard workers’ fundamental rights.”

As the Biden-Harris administration continues to consider the need for structural reforms to the H-2A and H-2B programs that would mitigate vulnerabilities they may create for workers, this initiative is another key component of the administration’s Collaborative Migration Management Strategy, focused on strengthening cooperative efforts to manage safe, orderly and humane migration in North and Central America.

“Taking meaningful steps to protect workers throughout the recruitment and employment process is crucial as the U.S. expands legal pathways for migration in line with our Collaborative Migration Management Strategy. The State Department supports this comprehensive effort to facilitate equitable access to temporary work opportunities and prioritize the protection of workers’ rights,” said Secretary of State Antony Blinken. 

“Providing legal pathways for temporary work is a powerful way to address critical labor needs here in the United States while giving seasonal workers a chance to earn money they can use to return to and rebuild their own communities. We’ve worked with the governments of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to recruit temporary workers through safe, ethical, fair and transparent means, and today’s guidance is an important step in expanding efforts to prevent abuse and protect fundamental worker rights,” said U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power.

Based on the International Labor Organization’s “Guiding Principles and Operational Guidelines for Fair Recruitment” and the department’s current regulations, the Fair Recruitment Guidance encourages countries and employers participating in H-2A and H-2B visa programs to implement best practices.  It addresses key issues related to:

  • The design, implementation and regulation of recruitment infrastructure and processes.
  • Protecting fundamental worker rights.
  • Ensuring transparency and access to redress for workers and job applicants.

The guidance also describes measures that retailers and other supply chain actors can take to help prevent, mitigate and remedy abuses in supply chains.

Learn more about the H-2A and H-2B visa program regulations here.

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