What is the New Green Card Process for Farmworkers?
A new proposal to help immigration farmworkers gain legal immigration status authorization awaits approval in the U.S. Senate after passing in the U.S. House of Representatives. The Farm Workforce Modernization Act allows workers who met a threshold of having worked a minimum of 180 days over the past two years in the agriculture industry the opportunity to apply for official status as a Certified Agricultural Worker and, for many, the chance to apply for a green card. If enacted, the legislation would allow the spouses and children of workers to seek legal status as well. Workers with immigration issues are encouraged to contact an experienced immigration lawyer for assistance.
One element of the Farm Workforce Modernization Act is set to potentially benefit employers regarding a change to the temporary worker program. Under the Act, employers that qualify under certain regulations will be allowed to offer jobs to foreign workers on a temporary basis if the measure passes.
How Would Major Provisions of the Proposed Act Work?
According to the legislation, those who can prove that they worked as an agricultural worker for at least 180 days out of the past two years can apply for temporary status to continue in the industry. Their families are also eligible for legal status under the Act. As another advantage to foreign workers who want to stay in the country, the Act includes a process for allowing some agricultural workers to qualify for a green card, a legal document that demonstrates permanent residency status. The process would allow certain farmworkers to pay a $1,000 fine and agree to remain employed in the industry for an additional four to eight years. Additionally, the Act supports changes to the H-2A visa process, which grants temporary work in the agricultural industry to foreign citizens.
What Protections are Offered to Farmworkers?
The Act allows Certified Agricultural Workers to retain their status for a period of five and one-half years, which can be extended. It also allows for this status to be afforded to the dependents of the worker as well. The Act protects aliens who have applied for this status from being deported or otherwise removed while their application is pending. After meeting specific requirements, which includes continued agricultural work, the worker and their dependents may apply for lawful permanent resident status.
When it comes to H-2A, the Act outlines the process for efficient filing and processing protocols. Changes to the program include measures for adjustments to minimum wage calculations for workers, minimum work-hour guarantees from employers, and guarantees that the work is not temporary or seasonal. The Act details requirements that the employer prove that it attempted to recruit U.S. workers and reserves visa allocation specifically for the dairy industry.
The legislation includes a provision to set up a pilot program that allows workers some flexibility if they leave their job, provided they secure another position within 60 days with another registered H-2A employer. The Act also calls for a mandatory verification system to identify a worker and prove that they are authorized to be hired for work, as well as help workers with financing assistance for housing through the creation of the Housing Preservation and Revitalization Program.
How is the Timing of the Act Significant Regarding the Nature of Farmworkers’ Labor?
Farmworkers in the United States have been disproportionately at risk during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis. Their work conditions, which extend to their living situation in tight quarters with coworkers, put them in danger of contracting the deadly virus at the very time that the nation’s citizens were counting on these workers for their very survival.
President Biden made it clear that he thinks the Act is crucial to afford these essential farmworkers dignity and security. He explained that the Act is part of his administration’s effort to enact the long-term solutions to create a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system.
Philadelphia Immigration Lawyers at the MC Law Group, LLC Help Foreign Workers Obtain Green Cards
Foreign workers who are trying to obtain legal status to work in the United States have an uphill battle in proving their eligibility under new and existing immigration laws. The Philadelphia immigration lawyers at the MC Law Group, LLC can inform and assist these workers as they make their case for obtaining a green card. For a free consultation, call 215-496-0690 or complete our online form. Located in Philadelphia, we serve clients throughout the tri-state area, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and nationwide.