Department Of Homeland Security To Add 15000 Work Visas

Taylor Byrd
July 19, 2017

The H-2B nonimmigrant visa program USA employers who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring low skilled foreign workers to the United States to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs.

A federal law caps the number of available H2B visas at 66,000 a year.

The H-2B program allows workers from places like Mexico and Guatemala to come to the US, work for a few months at a government-set prevailing wage, and then return to their home countries, only to repeat the process the following year.

"Congress gave me this opportunity to provide temporary relief to American businesses in danger of suffering irreparable harm due to a lack of temporary workers", Kelly said. "As a demonstration of the administration's commitment to supporting American businesses, DHS is providing this one-time increase to the congressionally set annual cap".

The decision to add visas comes amid a Trump administration crackdown on illegal immigration and promises to bring back jobs. USCIS will stop accepting petitions after September 15 or after the cap is reached, whichever occurs first.

But according to the DHS and the Department of Labor, Americans haven't been willing or qualified enough to perform the available work.

The Colony, an oceanside hotel in Kennebunkport, Maine yards away from a Bush family property, may not even hire some H2B visa workers this year because they would only be arriving by summer's end, general manager John Martin said.

Many seasonal businesses such as resorts, landscaping companies and seafood harvesters and processors had sought permission to temporarily hire more immigrants. In May, lawmakers gave Kelly authority to approve up to an additional 70,000 temporary visas and pleaded with him to use his authority to issue as many of them as he thought appropriate.

"This does help with American businesses continuing to prosper", a senior DHS official told NBC News. As a reminder, in December 2015, House Speaker Paul Ryan inserted into the FY 2016 omnibus a provision that exempted from the H-2B cap all low skilled workers admitted between 2013 and 2015.

The increased visa allocation coincides with President Donald Trump's "Made in America" Week, which seeks to promote American workers and products.

Congress paved the way to increasing the number of H-2B workers in May when it passed an omnibus budget to avert a government shutdown. In 2016, there were an extra 13,382 visas granted for seasonal work. "That doesn't mean there aren't some shortages in some places, but there need to be rules in place to ensure that a fair wage is being offered to American workers first". "We understand the needs of employers who rely on seasonal H-2B workers if the American workforce can't meet the demand, but we are also aware of the potential side effects of flooding the labor force with more temporary foreign workers, including depressed wages for all workers in seasonal jobs".

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