New Guest Worker Concept

April 18, 2019

Immigration efforts continue to take shape.  A new guest worker concept bill is being proposed by Ag leader Congressman Ted Yoho (R) from Florida.  The bill is an attempt to address existing unauthorized workers, future flow, and enforcement.  The effort is designed to be added to Democratic efforts that are also ongoing and is not necessarily a freestanding bill or complete solution.  Under the Yoho concept:

Existing Workers Could Participate

  • Gives unauthorized workers who are already present in the United States an opportunity to participate in the program, pending a background check and a fine.
  • There is no touchback requirement for workers to return to their home country, apply for a visa, and return legally.
  • Spouses and children (under the age of 18) who reside within the same household will be provided a waiver which lasts as long as the guest worker’s participation in the program.

Future Flow of Workers is Addressed

  • Moves Ag guest worker program from the Department of Labor to USDA.
  • Creates a guest worker pool of prescreened guest workers.
  • Guest workers will be provided a biometric identification card, used to verify visa status.
  • The employer may provide housing but would be able to charge a reasonable fee.
  • No transportation requirement.
  • Eliminates the Adverse Effect Wage Rate.
  • Permits year-round agricultural operations to use the program.
  • Expands the definition of agricultural employers so egg processors, timber, equine, etc. may use the program.
  • Visa will be for five years.

E-Verify Will Follow Program Implementation

  • National mandatory E-Verify after the program has been created and the rules have been promulgated.
  • E-Verify will likely begin with larger employers, then apply later to smaller operations.

UEP’s DC team will continue to support immigration reform efforts in legislative activities.