DHS Secretary John Kelly has decided to use the authority granted to him by Congress to provide 15,000 more H-2B visas through the remainder of the fiscal year. In the latest omnibus spending bill, Congress granted authority to DHS to approve around 70,000 additional H-2B visas in FY17 over the 66,000 cap.
The H-2B visa is primarily used by the landscaping, hospitality, and tourism industries to fill seasonal or temporary jobs. A recent Center for Immigration Studies report argued that these H-2B jobs usually pay better than minimum wage and should go to Americans instead of foreign workers.
NumbersUSA President and Founder Roy Beck released this statement on the H-2B visa increase:
“Sec. Kelly's decision to increase H-2B foreign workers threatens to reverse the trend of reports emerging around the country of employers working harder and raising pay to successfully recruit more unemployed Americans for lower-skilled jobs. Congress gave Kelly the authority to put around 70,000 more of those jobs out of the reach of Americans; at least Kelly limited the damage to keeping just 15,000 more Americans out of the labor market. Nonetheless, this is yet another example of the Administration and Congress failing to keep the Trump campaign promise of putting American workers first.”
Businesses can begin filing applications once the final rule is published in the federal register, which should be later this week. These additional visas will not be limited to specific industries only to employers who say they will suffer “irreparable harm” without the visa. However, no evidence needs to be submitted to verify this claim.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senator Dick Durbin released the following statement on the H-2B increase:
“While there may be legitimate needs among employers who rely on H-2B workers in certain sectors of the economy, a growing body of evidence shows that our increasing reliance on the H-2B visa program hurts wages for American workers, and puts their jobs at risk. New research suggests that wages in some H-2B fields have been stagnant for years. The Administration’s decision to increase the number of H-2B visas will only exacerbate this problem.”
Read the full DHS press release here.
Updated: Tue, Jul 18th 2017 @ 4:35pm EDT