Immigration: Policy Considerations Related to Guest Worker Programs [Updated April 21, 2005]   [open pdf - 140KB]

"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 program and other guest workers enter through the H-2B program. Employers interested in importing workers under either program must first apply to the U.S. Labor Department 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. Bills before the 109th Congress propose to make changes to the H-2A program (S. 359/H.R. 884) and the H-2B program (S. 278, S. 352/H.R. 793). S. 359/H.R. 884 also would establish a mechanism for certain foreign agricultural workers to become U.S. legal permanent residents (LPRs). Other guest worker legislation is expected to be introduced later in this Congress. 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. The President featured his proposal in his 2004 and 2005 State of the Union addresses. The current discussion of guest worker programs takes place against a backdrop of historically high levels of unauthorized migration to the United States."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL32044
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