U.S. Department of Labor and Guatemala Sign Joint Memorandum of Agreement to Improve H-2A Nonimmigrant Visa Program Operations
WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Department of Labor today signed a bi-lateral cooperative agreement with Guatemala to facilitate increased transparency, accountability, and worker safety in the H-2A nonimmigrant visa program for temporary agricultural workers from Guatemala.
Through this agreement, the Guatemalan government will provide additional safeguards for temporary workers by certifying that labor recruiters are vetted and registered with their government. The agreement is intended to complement existing U.S. laws and strengthen the protections for U.S. workers as well as prospective Guatemalan H-2A workers by ensuring Guatemalan H-2A workers are less susceptible to criminal actors and are not charged excessive fees as part of the H-2A nonimmigrant visa program, potentially undercutting U.S. workers. Additionally, these safeguards will assist U.S. employers who utilize the H-2A nonimmigrant visa program to seek workers from Guatemala by providing additional transparency and accountability concerning foreign labor recruiters’ compliance with U.S. and Guatemalan law.
The H-2A nonimmigrant visa program allows American agricultural employers to hire seasonal workers from 85 eligible countries after the U.S. employer demonstrates that there are not sufficient, able, willing, and qualified U.S. workers available at the time and place of need and the hiring of foreign workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers similarly employed. All H-2A nonimmigrant workers are vetted by the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State prior to entering the United States.
John Pallasch, Assistant Secretary of Labor for the Employment and Training Administration at the U.S. Department of Labor, signed the agreement on behalf of the United States government and Gabriel Aguilera, Minister of Labor and Social Welfare, signed on behalf of Guatemala.
The mission of the U.S. Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.