Sen. Rand Paul proposes bill to streamline H-2A process

Employees currently under the capped H-2B program would be able to apply for the uncapped H-2A program.

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WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) has introduced the Paperwork Reduction for Farmers and H-2A Modernization Act (S. 1887), a bill providing regulatory relief to Kentucky’s agriculture community by reducing red tape and streamlining temporary agriculture worker visa programs.

By allowing certain categories of temporary workers currently under the capped H-2B program, such as those in the landscaping industry, to apply through the uncapped H-2A program, this legislation would help Kentucky business owners hire and retain the workers they need. Paul's office wrote in a press release that the bill would simultaneously reform the H-2A application system, alleviating unnecessary bureaucratic delays from an outdated application system.

“My (act) provides a commonsense solution to a frustrating problem by reforming our antiquated H-2A and H-2B temporary worker programs to meet the labor needs of Kentucky’s entire agriculture community,' Paul said. "By providing greater flexibility within the programs, increasing reliability from season to season, and eliminating unnecessary regulatory burdens, my bill gets government out of the way so these Kentucky farmers and industries can grow, succeed, and continue supporting the Commonwealth’s economy."

Andrew Bray, the National Association of Landscape Professionals' vice president of government relations, told Lawn & Landscape that while there's no cap on H-2A temporary visas distributed, the rolling nature of applications can lead to delays in getting the visas granted. There is still a 66,000-visa cap on the H-2B program.

Bray said he reached out to Paul's office several months ago and asked for landscapers to be added to the bill, though the focus on the bill is primarily on agriculture, livestock or equine industries. 

"We support any amendment to the A program that would alleviate the strain on the B cap," Bray said. "We generally want (picking H-2A or H-2B) to be a choice. There's different requirements between A and B on what you have to do. We were still supportive of this but we still want more comprehensive reforms to the B program."