More than a hundred trade groups have signed a letter addressed to the top Members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, urging them to include an increase in H-2B visas in the upcoming spending bill. The House passed a short-term spending bill last night, and the Senate is expected to take it up later this week.
The H-2B low-skilled visa is used by employers to hire cheap, foreign workers for seasonal and temporary jobs, even though H-2B visa holders can work in the country for up to 3 years at a time. The annual cap is set at 66,000, but Congress has allowed for the cap to be raised on a number of different occasions, most recently in 2017. Despite the increase of 15,000 in 2017, employers failed to request that many workers.
In the letter, the employers wrote:
“The lack of H-2B workers jeopardizes the survival of small and seasonal businesses and puts their American workers at risk of losing their jobs. Relief for seasonal businesses that use the H-2B program is desperately needed. We urge you to include H-2B cap relief in any spending measure for the remainder fiscal 2018 or any other appropriate legislation.”
There have been no examples reported of businesses shutting down because of their inability to bring in more H-2B visas. But there have been a number of media reports of creative ways that seasonal businesses have been able to hire the workers they need through more aggressive recruiting of American workers and wage increases.
Updated: Wed, Feb 7th 2018 @ 7:31pm EST