US finalises changes to H2-B visa | world | Hindustan Times
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US finalises changes to H2-B visa

world Updated: Dec 18, 2008 23:01 IST
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The US government will make permanent its changes to a visa programme that brings foreign workers to the United States for temporary nonagricultural work.

The aim is to streamline and simplify the application process and increase worker protections, Labour Secretary Elaine Chao said.

The H2-B visa programme allows foreign workers into the U for specific seasonal jobs, provided the employer cannot find Americans for the work, and the foreigners return home within 10 months.

Workers in the programme must pass background checks, and the visas have provisions to ensure they return home. The visa programme is capped at 66,000 workers per year, who are placed mostly in landscaping, hospitality and other industries.

Changes include eliminating duplicative applications at the state and federal levels, requiring employers to attest, under threat of fines and disbarment, that they follow all rules and let the government decide what workers should earn.

Employers will be prohibited from passing along the cost of the new proposals to their workers, and the Labour Department, for the first time, will be able to enforce terms and conditions of temporary foreigner employment and impose fines on violators.