Agricultural employers with existing H-2A workers should continue to follow the current federal rules, even if their workers’ contracts extend past the date that new rules are slated to take effect.

That’s the message from the Northwest Horticultural Council, said Kate Tynan, senior vice president of the group that represents Washington, Oregon and Idaho apple, pear and cherry growers in federal matters.

Earlier in October, the U.S. Department of Labor announced final rule changes to H-2A regulations that affect the application process, prevailing wage calculations, housing inspections and more. The changes will take effect Nov. 14.

However, the Labor Department is allowing a 90-day transition period, Tynan said. That means employers who have applied or will apply for H-2A visas with a start-work date before Feb. 12, 2023 — 90 days after Nov. 14 — should follow existing regulations. Applications with start dates after then will fall under the new rules.

This new rule is the result of a Labor Department process that began with a proposal during the Trump administration.

To read the entire rule, visit the Federal Register at:

by Ross Courtney