Allen Reintroduces Legislation to Improve H-2A Efficiency

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Washington, January 24, 2017 | comments

WASHINGTON, DC—Today, U.S. Representative Rick Allen (R-Ga.-12) reintroduced the Better Agriculture Resources Now (BARN) Act, H.R. 641. This legislation works to reform and strengthen the H-2A visa program, a program which allows agriculture employers to hire non-immigrant workers for temporary labor. However, this process has been frequently caught up in red tape, stalling, or in some cases, preventing employers from applying for and hiring H-2A workers.  The BARN Act increases the efficiency of the H-2A visa program to help farmers in Georgia and across America.

“Many farmers in Georgia and across the country rely on the H-2A visa program for not only their livelihood but to ensure food security in America. Currently, the H-2A program is under the jurisdiction of the Department of Labor, which has resulted in needless delay and neglect of the program.  The DOL does not understand the urgency in which crops must be planted or harvested—or the consequences that could result from a lack of timeliness. This is exactly why I introduced the BARN Act again this Congress. My legislation transfers responsibility of H-2A certification to the Department of Agriculture—which is better suited to meet the needs of farmers and their time-sensitive operations.

Additionally, the BARN Act works to streamline the H-2A process and reforms specific parts of the program that have failed farmers to better serve the agriculture industry as a whole. President Trump has indicated that he wants to make immigration reform a cornerstone of his presidency, and I am hopeful that together we can lead the charge to make these much-needed changes to support our farmers.”  


  • Transfers responsibility for certification of H-2A need from DOL to USDA to improve efficiency in the processing of requests.

  • Keeps jurisdiction over all immigration status issues at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

  • Lowers the maximum filing deadline for employers to request H-2A labor from 45 days to 30 days in order to accelerate the certification process.

  • Eliminates the 50% Rule, providing farmers greater certainty by allowing them to retain H-2A workers who have been employed on their operations for less than 50% of the duration of their visas.

  • Requires that wages of H-2A workers not exceed 115% of the minimum wage rate at the federal or state level (whichever is higher).

  • Requires non-immigrant workers to return to their home country after their H-2A status has expired or face penalties from DHS unless USDA grants the worker an extension.

  • Sets clear housing requirements for H-2A workers.

  • Responsibly changes necessary grounds for claims filed by Legal Services Corporation to reduce burdens on H-2A employers caused by frivolous lawsuits.

  • Includes strong reforms to combat H-2A overstays and fraud.

  • Prevents non-immigrant workers with previous criminal offenses from participating in the H-2A program while holding employers responsible for adhering to H-2A hiring requirements as well.

The BARN Act is also supported by the Georgia Farm Bureau. "If BARN were to pass it would significantly improve the H2A program,” said Gerald Long, Georgia Farm Bureau President. “We believe better H-2A rules would allow more farmers to utilize the program. BARN is clearly a step in the right direction.”

Rep. Allen is a member of the House Committee on Agriculture and previously introduced this legislation in the 114th Congress.

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