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e-CFR data is current as of August 6, 2020

Title 20Chapter VPart 655Subpart B → Subject Group


Title 20: Employees' Benefits
PART 655—TEMPORARY EMPLOYMENT OF FOREIGN WORKERS IN THE UNITED STATES
Subpart B—Labor Certification Process for Temporary Agricultural Employment in the United States (H-2A Workers)


Application for Temporary Employment Certification Filing Procedures

§655.130   Application filing requirements.

All agricultural employers who desire to hire H-2A foreign agricultural workers must apply for a certification from the Secretary by filing an Application for Temporary Employment Certification with the NPC designated by the OFLC Administrator. The following section provides the procedures employers must follow when filing.

(a) What to file. An employer, whether individual, association, or an H-2ALC, that desires to apply for temporary employment certification of one or more nonimmigrant foreign workers must file a completed Application for Temporary Employment Certification form and, unless a specific exemption applies, a copy of Form ETA-790, submitted to the SWA serving the area of intended employment, as set forth in §655.121(a).

(b) Timeliness. A completed Application for Temporary Employment Certification must be filed no less than 45 calendar days before the employer's date of need.

(c) Location and method of filing. The employer may send the Application for Temporary Employment Certification and all required supporting documentation by U.S. Mail or private mail courier to the NPC. The Department will publish a Notice in the Federal Register identifying the address(es), and any future address changes, to which Applications for Temporary Employment Certification must be mailed, and will also post these addresses on the OFLC Internet Web site at http://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/. The Department may also require Applications for Temporary Employment Certification, at a future date, to be filed electronically in addition to or instead of by mail, notice of which will be published in the Federal Register.

(d) Original signature. The Application for Temporary Employment Certification must bear the original signature of the employer (and that of the employer's authorized attorney or agent if the employer is represented by an attorney or agent). An association filing a master application as a joint employer may sign on behalf of its employer members. An association filing as an agent may not sign on behalf of its members but must obtain each member's signature on each Application for Temporary Employment Certification prior to filing.

(e) Information received in the course of processing Applications for Temporary Employment Certification and program integrity measures such as audits may be forwarded from OFLC to Wage and Hour Division (WHD) for enforcement purposes.

§655.131   Association filing requirements.

If an association files an Application for Temporary Employment Certification, in addition to complying with all the assurances, guarantees, and other requirements contained in this subpart and in part 653, subpart F, of this chapter, the following requirements also apply.

(a) Individual applications. Associations of agricultural employers may file an Application for Temporary Employment Certification for H-2A workers as a sole employer, a joint employer, or agent. The association must identify in the Application for Temporary Employment Certification in what capacity it is filing. The association must retain documentation substantiating the employer or agency status of the association and be prepared to submit such documentation in response to a Notice of Deficiency from the CO prior to issuing a Final Determination, or in the event of an audit.

(b) Master applications. An association may file a master application on behalf of its employer-members. The master application is available only when the association is filing as a joint employer. An association may submit a master application covering the same occupation or comparable work available with a number of its employer-members in multiple areas of intended employment, just as though all of the covered employers were in fact a single employer, as long as a single date of need is provided for all workers requested by the Application for Temporary Employment Certification and all employer-members are located in no more than two contiguous States. The association must identify on the Application for Temporary Employment Certification by name, address, total number of workers needed, and the crops and agricultural work to be performed, each employer that will employ H-2A workers. The association, as appropriate, will receive a certified Application for Temporary Employment Certification that can be copied and sent to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with each employer-member's petition.

§655.132   H-2A labor contractor (H-2ALC) filing requirements.

If an H-2ALC intends to file an Application for Temporary Employment Certification, the H-2ALC must meet all of the requirements of the definition of employer in §655.103(b), and comply with all the assurances, guarantees, and other requirements contained in this part, including Assurances and Obligations of H-2A Employers, and in part 653, subpart F, of this chapter.

(a) Scope of H-2ALC Applications. An Application for Temporary Employment Certification filed by an H-2ALC must be limited to a single area of intended employment in which the fixed-site employer(s) to whom an H-2ALC is furnishing employees will be utilizing the employees.

(b) Required information and submissions. An H-2ALC must include in or with its Application for Temporary Employment Certification the following:

(1) The name and location of each fixed-site agricultural business to which the H-2ALC expects to provide H-2A workers, the expected beginning and ending dates when the H-2ALC will be providing the workers to each fixed site, and a description of the crops and activities the workers are expected to perform at such fixed site.

(2) A copy of the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA) Farm Labor Contractor (FLC) Certificate of Registration, if required under MSPA at 29 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., identifying the specific farm labor contracting activities the H-2ALC is authorized to perform as an FLC.

(3) Proof of its ability to discharge financial obligations under the H-2A program by including with the Application for Temporary Employment Certification the original surety bond as required by 29 CFR 501.9. The bond document must clearly identify the issuer, the name, address, phone number, and contact person for the surety, and provide the amount of the bond (as calculated pursuant to 29 CFR 501.9) and any identifying designation used by the surety for the bond.

(4) Copies of the fully-executed work contracts with each fixed-site agricultural business identified under paragraph (b)(1) of this section.

(5) Where the fixed-site agricultural business will provide housing or transportation to the workers, proof that:

(i) All housing used by workers and owned, operated or secured by the fixed-site agricultural business complies with the applicable standards as set forth in §655.122(d) and certified by the SWA; and

(ii) All transportation between the worksite and the workers' living quarters that is provided by the fixed-site agricultural business complies with all applicable Federal, State, or local laws and regulations and must provide, at a minimum, the same vehicle safety standards, driver licensure, and vehicle insurance as required under 29 U.S.C. 1841 and 29 CFR 500.105 and 500.120 to 500.128, except where workers' compensation is used to cover such transportation as described in §655.125(h).

§655.133   Requirements for agents.

(a) An agent filing an Application for Temporary Employment Certification on behalf of an employer must provide a copy of the agent agreement or other document demonstrating the agent's authority to represent the employer.

(b) In addition the agent must provide a copy of the MSPA FLC Certificate of Registration, if required under MSPA at 29 U.S.C. 1801 et seq., identifying the specific farm labor contracting activities the agent is authorized to perform.

§655.134   Emergency situations.

(a) Waiver of time period. The CO may waive the time period for filing for employers who did not make use of temporary alien agricultural workers during the prior year's agricultural season or for any employer that has other good and substantial cause (which may include unforeseen changes in market conditions), provided that the CO has sufficient time to test the domestic labor market on an expedited basis to make the determinations required by §655.100.

(b) Employer requirements. The employer requesting a waiver of the required time period must concurrently submit to the NPC and to the SWA serving the area of intended employment a completed Application for Temporary Employment Certification, a completed job order on the Form ETA-790, and a statement justifying the request for a waiver of the time period requirement. The statement must indicate whether the waiver request is due to the fact that the employer did not use H-2A workers during the prior agricultural season or whether the request is for good and substantial cause. If the waiver is requested for good and substantial cause, the employer's statement must also include detailed information describing the good and substantial cause which has necessitated the waiver request. Good and substantial cause may include, but is not limited to, the substantial loss of U.S. workers due to weather-related activities or other reasons, unforeseen events affecting the work activities to be performed, pandemic health issues, or similar conditions.

(c) Processing of emergency applications. The CO will process emergency Applications for Temporary Employment Certification in a manner consistent with the provisions set forth in §§655.140 through 655.145 and make a determination on the Application for Temporary Employment Certification in accordance with §§655.160 through 655.167. The CO may advise the employer in writing that the certification cannot be granted because, pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section, the request for emergency filing was not justified and/or there is not sufficient time to test the availability of U.S. workers such that the CO can make a determination on the Application for Temporary Employment Certification in accordance with §655.161. Such notification will so inform the employer using the procedures applicable to a denial of certification set forth in §655.164.

§655.135   Assurances and obligations of H-2A employers.

An employer seeking to employ H-2A workers must agree as part of the Application for Temporary Employment Certification and job offer that it will abide by the requirements of this subpart and make each of the following additional assurances:

(a) Non-discriminatory hiring practices. The job opportunity is, and through the period set forth in paragraph (d) of this section must continue to be, open to any qualified U.S. worker regardless of race, color, national origin, age, sex, religion, handicap, or citizenship. Rejections of any U.S. workers who applied or apply for the job must be only for lawful, job-related reasons, and those not rejected on this basis have been or will be hired. In addition, the employer has and will continue to retain records of all hires and rejections as required by §655.167.

(b) No strike or lockout. The worksite for which the employer is requesting H-2A certification does not currently have workers on strike or being locked out in the course of a labor dispute.

(c) Recruitment requirements. The employer has and will continue to cooperate with the SWA by accepting referrals of all eligible U.S. workers who apply (or on whose behalf an Application for Temporary Employment Certification is made) for the job opportunity until the end of the period as specified in paragraph (d) of this section and must independently conduct the positive recruitment activities, as specified in §655.154, until the date on which the H-2A workers depart for the place of work. Unless the SWA is informed in writing of a different date, the date that is the third day preceding the employer's first date of need will be determined to be the date the H-2A workers departed for the employer's place of business.

(d) Fifty percent rule. From the time the foreign workers depart for the employer's place of employment, the employer must provide employment to any qualified, eligible U.S. worker who applies to the employer until 50 percent of the period of the work contract has elapsed. Start of the work contract timeline is calculated from the first date of need stated on the Application for Temporary Employment Certification, under which the foreign worker who is in the job was hired. This provision will not apply to any employer who certifies to the CO in the Application for Temporary Employment Certification that the employer:

(1) Did not, during any calendar quarter during the preceding calendar year, use more than 500 man-days of agricultural labor, as defined in sec. 203(u) of Title 29;

(2) Is not a member of an association which has petitioned for certification under this subpart for its members; and

(3) Has not otherwise associated with other employers who are petitioning for temporary foreign workers under this subpart.

(e) Compliance with applicable laws. During the period of employment that is the subject of the Application for Temporary Employment Certification, the employer must comply with all applicable Federal, State and local laws and regulations, including health and safety laws. In compliance with such laws, including the William Wilberforce Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2008, Pub. L. 110-457, 18 U.S.C. 1592(a), the employer may not hold or confiscate workers' passports, visas, or other immigration documents. H-2A employers may also be subject to the FLSA. The FLSA operates independently of the H-2A program and has specific requirements that address payment of wages, including deductions from wages, the payment of Federal minimum wage and payment of overtime.

(f) Job opportunity is full-time. The job opportunity is a full-time temporary position, calculated to be at least 35 hours per work week.

(g) No recent or future layoffs. The employer has not laid off and will not lay off any similarly employed U.S. worker in the occupation that is the subject of the Application for Temporary Employment Certification in the area of intended employment except for lawful, job-related reasons within 60 days of the date of need, or if the employer has laid off such workers, it has offered the job opportunity that is the subject of the Application for Temporary Employment Certification to those laid-off U.S. worker(s) and the U.S. worker(s) refused the job opportunity, was rejected for the job opportunity for lawful, job-related reasons, or was hired. A layoff for lawful, job-related reasons such as lack of work or the end of the growing season is permissible if all H-2A workers are laid off before any U.S. worker in corresponding employment.

(h) No unfair treatment. The employer has not and will not intimidate, threaten, restrain, coerce, blacklist, discharge or in any manner discriminate against, and has not and will not cause any person to intimidate, threaten, restrain, coerce, blacklist, or in any manner discriminate against, any person who has:

(1) Filed a complaint under or related to 8 U.S.C. 1188, or this subpart or any other Department regulation promulgated thereunder;

(2) Instituted or caused to be instituted any proceeding under or related to 8 U.S.C. 1188 or this subpart or any other Department regulation promulgated thereunder;

(3) Testified or is about to testify in any proceeding under or related to 8 U.S.C. 1188 or this subpart or any other Department regulation promulgated thereunder;

(4) Consulted with an employee of a legal assistance program or an attorney on matters related to 8 U.S.C. 1188 or this subpart or any other Department regulation promulgated thereunder; or

(5) Exercised or asserted on behalf of himself/herself or others any right or protection afforded by 8 U.S.C. 1188 or this subpart or any other Department regulation promulgated thereunder.

(i) Notify workers of duty to leave United States. (1) The employer must inform H-2A workers of the requirement that they leave the U.S. at the end of the period certified by the Department or separation from the employer, whichever is earlier, as required under paragraph (i)(2) of this section, unless the H-2A worker is being sponsored by another subsequent H-2A employer.

(2) As defined further in DHS regulations, a temporary labor certification limits the validity period of an H-2A petition, and therefore, the authorized period of stay for an H-2A worker. See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(5)(vii) A foreign worker may not remain beyond his or her authorized period of stay, as determined by DHS, nor beyond separation from employment prior to completion of the H-2A contract, absent an extension or change of such worker's status under DHS regulations. See 8 CFR 214.2(h)(5)(viii)(B).

(j) Comply with the prohibition against employees paying fees. The employer and its agents have not sought or received payment of any kind from any employee subject to 8 U.S.C. 1188 for any activity related to obtaining H-2A labor certification, including payment of the employer's attorneys' fees, application fees, or recruitment costs. For purposes of this paragraph, payment includes, but is not limited to, monetary payments, wage concessions (including deductions from wages, salary, or benefits), kickbacks, bribes, tributes, in kind payments, and free labor. This provision does not prohibit employers or their agents from receiving reimbursement for costs that are the responsibility and primarily for the benefit of the worker, such as government-required passport fees.

(k) Contracts with third parties comply with prohibitions. The employer has contractually forbidden any foreign labor contractor or recruiter (or any agent of such foreign labor contractor or recruiter) whom the employer engages, either directly or indirectly, in international recruitment of H-2A workers to seek or receive payments or other compensation from prospective employees. This documentation is to be made available upon request by the CO or another Federal party.

(l) Notice of worker rights. The employer must post and maintain in a conspicuous location at the place of employment, a poster provided by the Secretary in English, and, to the extent necessary, any language common to a significant portion of the workers if they are not fluent in English, which sets out the rights and protections for workers employed pursuant to 8 U.S.C. 1188.

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