US to Issue 15,000 More H-2B Guest Worker Visas

US to Issue 15,000 More H-2B Guest Worker Visas

To address a shortage of labor in seasonal industries like hospitality and tourism, the US Department of Homeland Security on Monday authorized the release of an additional 15,000 H-2B visas, which are designated for low-skill, non-farm seasonal workers, for businesses that can prove they will be harmed if they cannot access foreign labor this summer, the New York Times reports:

Each year, the government makes available 66,000 H-2B visas, which are divided between the winter and summer seasons. The summer allotment has been quickly exhausted because Congress, concerned about the visa program’s impact on American workers, chose in December not to renew a provision that did not count workers who previously had H-2B visas against the quota. That decision halved the number of available visas. Congress then gave the homeland security secretary, John F. Kelly, the authority to release more visas, which a bipartisan group of lawmakers had been calling on him to do since May. …

Before being granted a seasonal visa, businesses must show that they have tried to fill vacancies with domestic workers by placing advertisements. They must also attest, under penalty of perjury, that their businesses will suffer permanent and severe financial loss if they are not allowed to hire foreign workers.

The decision to issue more H-2B visas seems to conflict with President Donald Trump’s “Hire American” policy and his attempts to rein in other work visa programs like the H-1B, but DHS officials are depicting the decision as pro-American businesses, Quartz’s Ana Campoy adds, though it also may not be sufficient:

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