HR 1603 - Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021 - National Key Vote


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Title: Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021

Vote Smart's Synopsis:

Vote to pass a bill that amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to establish terms and conditions for non-immigrant workers performing agricultural labor or services.



  • Authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to grant certified agricultural worker (CAW) status to an undocumented individual who submits a completed application, required processing fees, and meets the following requirements, including (Title I, Subtitle A, Sec. 101):

    • Performing agricultural labor or services in the United States for at least 1,035 hours (180 days) during the 2 proceeding years following this bill’s enactment;

    • Is inadmissible or deportable at the time of this bill’s enactment;

    • Is under a grant of deferred enforced departure (DED) or has temporary protected status (TPS) under the Immigration and Nationality Act;

    • Has been continuously present in the US from the date of this bill’s enactment up until receiving CAW status; and

    • Is not otherwise ineligible for CAW status.

  • Requires within one year of this bill’s enactment, the DHS Secretary have a streamlined electronic platform that accomplishes the following, including, but not limited to (Title II, Subtitle A, Sec. 201):

    • Where petitions for an H-2A Temporary Worker may be filed;

    • Serve as a single point of access for employer access, the DHS Secretary, Secretary of Labor, and state workforce agencies to input information;

    • Facilitate communication between employers and agency adjudicators; and

    • Provide information to the Secretary of State and US Customs and Border Protection necessary for efficient and secure processing of H-2A work visas.

  • Specifies that CAW status will be valid for a 5.5-year period and may be extend to an undocumented individual’s spouse or children by DHS (Title I, Subtitle A, Sec. 102).

  • Requires an undocumented individual with a pending application for CAW status have their CAW status temporarily extended through the date on which the DHS Secretary makes a final administrative decision (Title I, Subtitle A, Sec. 103).

  • Authorizes an undocumented individual with CAW status and their dependents to apply for lawful permanent residence if they meet the following requirements (Title I, Subtitle B, Sec. 111):

    • Performing agricultural labor or services for at least 574 (100 days) each year for:

      • The previous 10 years with 4 years in CAW status; or

      • If fewer than 10 years than at least 8 years in CAW status; and

    • The undocumented individual has not become inelgible for CAW status.

  • Requires each employer under this bill to offer workers the following wages during their period of employment, including (Title II, Subtitle A, Sec. 202):

    • The agreed-upon collective bargaining wage;

    • The adverse effect wage rate or any successor wage;

    • The prevailing wage (hourly or piece rate); or

    • The federal or state minimum wage.

  • Requires an employer to meet the following requirements in order to comply with foreign labor recruitment laws to recruit workers to the US, including, but not limited to  (Title II, Subtitle A, Sec. 202):

    • Complete the job order for posting on the electronic job registry maintained by the Secretary of Labor; and

    • For at least 45 days before each start date, identify and reach out to H-2A workers employed in the previous year.

  • Requires H-2A employers to guarantee worker employment for the hourly equivalent of at least three-fourths of the work days of the total period of employment, excluding Sundays and federal holidays (Title II, Subtitle A, Sec. 202).

  • Defines a “work-day” as a day in which the individual is employed for at least 5.75 hours in agricultural labor or services (Title I, Subtitle C, Sec. 121).

  • Expands the H-2A worker program to include work that is not of temporary or seasonal nature (Title II, Subtitle A, Sec. 202).

  • Requires that 50 percent of all work visas under the H-2A worker program in each fiscal year be reserved for workers engaged in agricultural labor or services in the dairy industry (Title II, Subtitle A, Sec. 202).

  • Requires the DHS Secretary, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Agriculture, establish a portable H-2A visa pilot program and give workers 60 days to attain new employment (Title II, Subtitle A, Sec. 206).

  • Establishes the Housing Preservation and Revitalization Program to provide financing assistance for rural rental housing and off-farm labor housing and rental assistance for qualified tenants (Title II, Subtitle B, Sec. 221).

  • Appropriates $200 million from the Department of Agriculture for fiscal years 2022-2031 to provide assistance for issuing loans and grants for new farmworker housing (Title II, Subtitle B, Sec. 228).

  • Requires undocumented individuals sign up for an electronic verification (E-Verify) identification system in order for the DHS Secretary to respond to employment eligibility questions from an employer seeking to verify the identity of a potential worker (Title III, Sec. 301).

  • Prohibits an undocumented individual from obtaining CAW status if found to be a repeat criminal offender or if convicted of a crime, and specifies that they will be considered for debarment from federal contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements (Title III, Sec. 301).