Editor’s note: This story was updated to show the effective date of the new rule.

The U.S. Department of Labor has announced a long-awaited final rule that makes substantial changes to H-2A regulations.

Among the many modifications, the new rule modernizes the methodology used to determine prevailing wages and empowers states to produce a greater number of prevailing wage surveys, according to a news release Oct. 6. The changes are scheduled to take effect Nov. 14.

Among other things, the changes also make electronic filing mandatory for most H-2A applications; improve safety and health protections for workers housed in rental or public accommodations; streamline bond requirements for labor contractors, to better hold them accountable; and clarify joint-employer status for employers and associations, the release said.

The Labor Department had been mulling over updates to H-2A regulations for years and approved a rule in the waning days of the Trump administration. However, the updates didn’t make it to the Federal Register before President Biden took office, giving the new administration the opportunity to review and rework the rule.

The new final rule, nearly 600 pages long, is scheduled to be published in the Federal Register on Oct. 12, although a prepublication draft is available by viewing the Department of Labor’s news release at: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/whd/whd20221006.

by Ross Courtney