Immigration: Policy Considerations Related to Guest Worker Programs [July 28, 2009] [open pdf - 418KB]
"At present, the United States has two main programs for temporarily importing low-skilled workers, sometimes referred to as guest workers. Agricultural guest workers enter through the H- 2A visa program, and other guest workers enter through the H-2B visa program. Before an employer can file a petition with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to import workers under either program, the employer must apply to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) for a certification that U.S. workers capable of performing the work are not available and that the employment of alien workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. Other requirements of the programs differ. In December 2008, DHS and DOL published final rules to significantly amend their H-2A and H- 2B regulations. [...] The DHS final H-2A and H-2B rules modify previous limitations on H-2A and H-2B workers' periods of stay in the United States. The rules also establish new requirements under both visas. They prohibit payments by prospective H-2A or H-2B workers to employers, recruiters, or other employment service providers where the payments are a condition of obtaining H-2A or H-2B employment... provide for the denial or revocation of petitions in the event of petitioner violations... and limit participation in the H-2A and H-2B programs to nationals of designated countries. [...] The current discussion of guest worker programs takes place against a backdrop of high levels of unauthorized migration to the United States, and one question that often arises about proposals for new guest worker programs is whether they would enable participants to obtain legal permanent resident (LPR) status."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32044