After a minimum of five years, workers who fulfill their Blue Card work requirements in U.S. agriculture will become eligible to apply for a Green Card, providing that they have no outstanding taxes, no convictions and pay a fine.
A new agricultural guest worker program will be established, with two work options:
An “At-Will” option will allow workers to enter the country to accept a specific job offer from an authorized agricultural employer, under a three-year visa. Employees will then be able to move within the country, working “at will” for any other authorized agricultural employer during that time. Employers must provide housing or a housing allowance to these workers.
A “Contract-Based” option will allow workers to enter the country to accept a specific contract for a specific amount of work from an authorized employer. This will also provide for a three-year visa, and require employers to provide housing or a housing allowance.
All guest workers will be paid an agreed-upon wage under the terms of this agreement.
There is a visa cap for the first five years of the program while current workers are participating in the Blue Card program. The Secretary of Agriculture has the authority to modify that cap if circumstances in agricultural labor require.
The new program will be administered by the Department of Agriculture.
While the initial visa cap level is only 112,333 for the non-immigrant agricultural workers, there are provisions for immediate adjustments in the cap. And the program is being administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is what the industry wanted to see.
And farm labor advocates seem to accept the hard-fought compromise as well.
As far Drudge and his readers, time will tell.