The U.S. House of Representatives is considering H.R. 3599, an updated version of the Dignity Act. Reps María Elvira Salazar (R-FL) and Veronica Escobar (D-TX) introduced the bill. The Act intends to secure the border, help fix the asylum system, and provide more agricultural workers while giving dignity to undocumented immigrants.
First, the bill would help agricultural employers by changing the H-2A guest worker program. It would eliminate the seasonal-only requirement, allowing seasonal and year-round employers to take advantage of the program. The bill will also enable many employers, such as dairy farmers, to use the guest worker program.
The bill would also eliminate the Adverse Effect Wage Rate (AEWR), which many employers found confusing. It also introduced staggered entry. This change would permit employers to have starting dates throughout the year, making planning easier.
Another effect of the Act includes gradually introducing the requirement for employers to use E-Verify. This federal program would verify that they hired legal workers. However, the bill “grants undocumented individuals in the country legal status, including work authorization, which would be implemented alongside E-Verify, to ensure an even and fair transition without adversely impacting immigrant workers.”
Visa caps would also rise. This change could help employers who sometimes have difficulty obtaining their desired workers because these caps limit them. Here are other reforms to worker visa programs introduced by the Act:
Employers should complete the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process for any foreign nationals they hire, as they do for all workers. However, this form often proves more complicated because of the many forms of documentation these employees may present. The best way to ensure correctly filed documents is by using an electronic I-9 management system. This system guides employers through the entire process and safely and securely stores the forms, allowing easy access when needed.
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