The U.S. Department of Labor is holding an online seminar April 18 to educate businesses and advocates on the proper employment of nonimmigrant workers with H-2B guest visas, attempting to prevent future violations of the program.
The H-2B visa program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign workers to the U.S. for non-agricultural or other work for a one-time occurrence, such labor needed on a seasonal, peak load or intermittent basis.
“Our team in the Midwest has made significant progress in holding violators accountable for violating the rights of thousands of workers in the H-2B program,” said Wage and Hour Division Regional Administrator Michael Lazzeri in a statement. “This ongoing initiative is designed to make sure employers meet specific requirements that protect the rights of workers – both U.S. workers and those with H-2B visas – to be paid their legal wages and benefits as the law requires, and that employers answer for their violations.”
Since 2018, the division has identified more than $4 million in back wages owed by employers to nearly 2,000 workers and assessed nearly $2.2 million in civil money penalties to resolve pay practice violations in Midwestern states.
The division has debarred 12 Midwest employers and contractors for H-2B visa program violations in the last five years.
According to a release, federal investigators find these businesses:
- fail to hire or rehire qualified U.S. workers.
- offer more favorable working conditions, and/or imposed restrictions or obligations on the H-2B workers that they did not offer or apply equally to U.S. workers.
- make illegal deductions or fail to include all hours worked, which results in the employer’s failure to pay the offered wage for entire period of intended employment.
- fail to pay for H-2B workers’ inbound and outbound travel expenses, and subsistence.
In Iowa City, Sustainable Landscape Solutions employed temporary workers from Costa Rica for nearly four months after entering the lottery process in November 2021. The company is hoping to utilize the H-2B program again but are at the whim of its lottery pick designation.
Interested parties can attend the webinar here.