United States to Add 15K Temporary Worker Visas

In order to help US businesses at risk of suffering "irreparable harm", the Department of Homeland Security said Monday it will provide as many as 15,000 new H-2B visas this year for temporary seasonal workers.

While he was still serving in the Senate, Attorney General Jeff Sessions past year sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee asking them not to dramatically increase the number of H-2B visas as the House had done in a temporary spending bill.

DHS chose to increase the amount of H-2B visas allowed after consulting with the Department of Labor, and was given the authority to do so in the omnibus spending bill that Congress recently approved.

Starting this week, eligible businesses can petition for H-2B visas by filing a Form I-129 and submit a supplemental attestation on Form ETA 9142-B-CAA.

The H-2B program now has an annual cap of 66,000 visas and a maximum of 33,000 visas are available during the first half of the fiscal year and then the remainder and any unused H-2B visas become available from April 1 through September.

The Trump administration said Monday that it is providing an additional 15,000 visas for foreign workers, despite the president's calls to hire United States workers first. Previous applicants who did not make the earlier cut-off for the fiscal year will have to reapply, the officials added, but if hired by the end of the fiscal year, they will be able to work past September 30.

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"We're talking about American businesses that are at risk of suffering irreparable harm if they don't get additional H-2B workers", the official said.

But, a 2015 Buzzfeed report showed that many businesses prefer to hire foreign guest workers over Americans to cut costs and limit legal liability.

According to NBC, in 2016, the federal government allowed 13,382 additional visas to meet seasonal demand.

"I have no idea if I'm even going to get a visa once they're processed", Diment said. In the past, Mr Trump claimed he had to hire foreign workers for Mar-a-Lago because American workers were not available during busy tourist seasons in Florida. "So we do think that fits into the American-first focus of the administration".

Last year, while on the campaign trail, Trump said he would "end forever the use of the H-1B as a cheap labor program".

The United States needs more foreign workers to keep some American businesses from floundering, according to a decision announced by US officials Monday.

  • Megan Austin