New DHS Rule Would Allow Low-Skill Alien Workers from China, India, Iran, North Korea, and Russia

A proposed regulation on H-2A and H-2B workers

By David North on September 21, 2023

A proposed regulation by the Department of Homeland Security would allow employers to import H-2A and H-2B workers from anywhere in the world, including India and China, which already flood the H-1B program, and even worse, from Iran, North Korea, Russia, and a dozen other countries now barred from the H-2 programs

Do we need farm workers (H-2A) and other nonskilled (H-2B) workers from such distant places as Burma (Myanmar), Indonesia, and the five Central Asian “Stans” when there are plenty of workers to be had, at considerably less expense, in nearby Mexico and Central America? What happened to the sensible idea of the Biden administration that recruiting such workers in the Northern Triangle would ease the pressures at the southern border?

Is it really too burdensome on the staff of DHS to draw up yearly lists of nations to be barred from these programs, one of the least persuasive arguments in this proposal?

So far, these are proposed changes, subject to comment for the next 60 days. It is about to be published in the Federal Register and can be seen here.

For a list of those nations that can currently use these programs, see here.

The government does not do anything as transparent as we have done here, such as to list the nations newly eligible for these non-skilled worker programs; it simply says blandly (with no mentions of pariah states like North Korea and Iran) that:

DHS proposes to remove the requirement that USCIS may generally only approve petitions for H-2 nonimmigrant status for nationals of countries that the Secretary of Homeland Security, with the concurrence of the Secretary of State, has designated as eligible to participate in the H-2 programs.

Here is a partial list of the nations that cannot now send us H-2 workers, but will be eligible to do so under the new proposal: Azerbaijan, Belarus, Burma (Myanmar), China, Cuba, India, Indonesia, Iran, Pakistan, Russia, and the five “Stans” (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan).

There is no shortage, sadly, of potential H-2 workers; I doubt that there is much of a groundswell among employers to bring in workers from, say, Iran or Uzbekistan. So why the proposed change?

Meanwhile, the proposal would offer some new and useful elements, such as making it easier for alien workers to avoid some employers’ fees, and many not-so-useful elements, such as eliminating the current requirement that employers use E-Verify, as well as lengthening grace periods when H-2 workers without current contracts can stay in the country without worry about deportation.

And DHS wants us to clean up our language. It says — in keeping with the inaccurate use of “noncitizen” when the meaning is “illegal alien” — that it will no longer use the term “abscond”, meaning that a worker is no longer in his or her designated job.

The search tool shows that there are 11 references to this now-banned term in the document. This is an act of political correctness carried needlessly into the vocabulary of the Federal Register.