Immigration: Policy Considerations Related to Guest Worker Programs [May 28, 2008] [open pdf - 249KB]
"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. […] President George W. Bush proposed a new, expanded temporary worker program in January 2004 when he announced his principles for immigration reform, and has since reiterated his support for such a program. In August 2007, following the unsuccessful cloture vote in the Senate on S. 1639, the Bush Administration announced that it would seek to streamline the existing H-2A and H-2B programs within current law. In February 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published proposed rules to significantly amend their respective H-2A regulations. The current discussion of guest worker programs takes place against a backdrop of historically 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 LPR [legal permanent residents] status. Other issues raised in connection with guest worker proposals include how new program requirements would compare with those of the H-2A and H-2B programs and how the eligible population would be defined. This report will be updated as legislative developments occur."
CRS Report for Congress, RL32044