Immigration: Policy Considerations Related to Guest Worker Programs [Updated April 6, 2006] [open pdf - 188KB]
"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. Employers interested in importing workers under either program must first apply to the U.S. Department of Labor 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. The 109th Congress has enacted language as part the FY2005 Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Act (P.L. 109-13) to revise the H-2B program. Other bills before the 109th Congress propose to make changes to the H-2A program (S. 359/H.R. 884, H.R. 3857, S. 2087, Specter substitute to S. 2454), the H-2B program (S. 278, H.R. 1587, S. 1438, S. 1918), and the 'H' visa category generally (H.R. 3333), and to establish new temporary worker visas (S. 1033/H.R. 2330, S. 1438, S. 1918, H.R. 4065, Specter substitute to S. 2454). S. 359/H.R. 884, S. 1033/H.R. 2330, S. 1918, and the Specter substitute to S. 2454 also would establish mechanisms for certain foreign workers to become U.S. legal permanent residents (LPRs). Various guest worker measures were introduced in the 108th Congress, but they saw no action beyond committee referrals. President George W. Bush proposed a new, expanded guest worker program in January 2004 when he announced his principles for immigration reform."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32044