The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said it will make 15,000 additional H-2B visas available for companies to hire temporary, non-agricultural foreign workers before the end of the fiscal year September 30. There is a cap on the total number of foreign workers who may be issued an H-2B visa or otherwise granted H-2B status during a fiscal year.
"I'm encouraged that Secretary Kelly intends to provide relief to seasonal small businesses across the nation now suffering from a lack of temporary workers".
"In a statement, DHS said Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly had consulted with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta and determined there were not enough "qualified and willing US workers" to fill the needs of businesses".
Congress set the annual H-2B cap at 66,000. Kelly expressed frustration that Congress gave him discretion on the matter instead of issuing specific orders about the visas - effectively punting the decision to him.
President Donald Trump has said he's going to set more limits on the H-1B visa program, which allows tens of thousands of technology workers into the USA each year. DHS also created a new tip line for people to report potential violations or abuse of the program.
Businesses can apply for the visas starting this week and foreign workers can stay employed from four to 10 months. DHS will allow endangered businesses, who attest they are "likely to suffer irreparable harm" without H-2B workers, to qualify for visas.
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For "Made in America" week, the Trump administration wanted to highlight American manufacturing, which the President has repeatedly said he will "bring back".
Mar-a-Lago's 64 workers on H-2B visas come primarily from Haiti and Romania. United States businesses hire people from Latin American countries.
Federal officials said there were not enough qualified and willing American workers available to perform certain types of temporary nonagricultural work.
"It would be great, for the long-term benefit, to get an independent piece of legislation that can affect the H-2B visas such that it is not constantly an amendment to the appropriations budget bill", Hamelback said. But lawmakers from several states, as well as the business community and pro-immigration advocates, had pressured the administration to issue these visas, saying businesses were unable to fill the posts they needed with USA workers.
FAIR previously warned the administration against increasing the number of low-skilled guest workers when Secretary Kelly first announced he was inclined to do so.
As a presidential candidate, Trump said he would "end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program, and institute an absolute requirement to hire American workers for every visa and immigration program", with "no exceptions".
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