DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen today made available an additional 15,000 H-2B guest worker visas after determining there are “not sufficient, qualified, U.S. workers available to perform temporary non-agriculture labor to satisfy the needs of American businesses in FY18.” This allocation is in addition to the 66,000 visas already issued this year.

In the FY 2018 Omnibus spending bill, Congress authorized the Secretary to increase the number of H-2B visas through the end of the fiscal year. Congress did the same in the FY 2017 Omnibus.

In a statement today Nielsen said, “The limitations on H-2B visas were originally meant to protect American workers, but when we enter a situation where the program unintentionally harms American businesses it needs to be reformed. I call on Congress to pass much needed reforms of the program and to expressly set the number of H-2B visas in statute.  We are once again in a situation where Congress has passed the buck and turned a decision over to DHS that would be better situated with Congress, who knows the needs of the program.”   

Responding to the announcement, NumbersUSA CEO and President Roy Beck said, “This decision flies in the face of other Administration efforts to allow a tightening labor market to pressure employers to raise wages and to recruit from the around 45 million working-age Americans that government data show don't have a job. There are plenty of work visas in the existing program for legitimate emergencies. The H-2B program should be reformed so the most urgent requests get priority.  Too many of the visas are going for non-essential landscaping and resort jobs.” 

Updated: Fri, Jun 8th 2018 @ 4:25pm EDT