House Holds Hearing on Guest Worker Programs

March 14, 2013
Today, the U.S. House Education and the Workforce Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a hearing on "Examining the Role of Lower-Skilled Guest Worker Programs in Today's Economy". The hearing is the latest in a series by the House to review different components of immigration reform. Today’s hearing highlighted the current visa programs and the necessary components for a new, more successful program in future legislation. Due to the unique nature of the construction industry, AGC has been working with other construction groups to ensure the discussion regarding a future lower-skilled visa program would work for the industry. The components of a new program must include:
  • An annual visa cap that fluctuates based on a demand-driven system that reflects the real economic needs of the nation;
  • An opportunity for employers to petition for an approved slot that allows them to hire visa-holding foreign workers, and replace those workers if/when they move onto another approved job slot;
  • A time period for job slot approvals, and approved visas, that reflects a long enough time period to ensure that the training investment made by employers is not lost;
  • A program that requires employers to treat these legal foreign workers in the same manner as U.S. workers—with all of the same benefits, workforce protections and wage rates as similarly-situated workers at the same location; and
  • A dual-intent process that allows some foreign workers who have demonstrated a commitment to their jobs and their communities to choose to petition for a change of status to a permanent legal status in the United States, while also incentivizing most foreign workers to return to their home country at the end of their visa period.
AGC will continue to work with Congress and stakeholders not just on a guest worker program but also larger, comprehensive reform. To read the letter AGC and other construction groups sent to Congress today, click here.
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