H.R. 1603, Farm Workforce Modernization Act of 2021
H.R. 1603 would allow unlawfully present aliens (non-U.S. nationals) who are working in agriculture to receive Certified Agricultural Worker Status (CAWS) and, eventually, lawful permanent resident (LPR) status. Using data from the Department of Agriculture, Department of Labor, and DHS, CBO estimates that more than 300,000 workers and 200,000 of their dependents would receive CAWS. Aliens receiving CAWS would become eligible for certain federal benefits and tax credits, if they meet the other eligibility criteria for those programs. They would gain eligibility for more benefits after adjusting to LPR status. Additionally, increased reporting of employment income by people who would gain employment authorization and Social Security Numbers under the act would result in higher net revenues, the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates.
H.R. 1603 would reform the H-2A nonimmigrant (temporary) agricultural worker program. CBO estimates that about 200,000 additional alien workers would receive H-2A nonimmigrant status over the 2022-2031 period because of those changes. H-2A workers are eligible for some federal health benefits; they do not pay federal payroll taxes.
H.R. 1603 would increase the number of people who can receive employment-based green cards by 40,000 per year. People who receive LPR status become eligible for more federal benefits than nonimmigrant workers.