Federal government to grant more visas to guest workers

Speaker Ryan Squeezes More H-2B Workers From DHS Chief John Kelly			AP		by Neil Munro17 Jul 20170		17 Jul 2017		17 Jul 2017

Fifteen thousand additional H-2B visas for temporary non-agricultural workers will be issued for fiscal year 2017, bringing the total for the year to 81,000.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has increased the number of H-2B non-immigrant visas by 15,000 for the remainder of fiscal year 2017. 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. In the statement, the department said Kelly was concerned Congress was "passing the buck" by not designating a specific number of visas and hoped the one-time occurrence was an anomaly.

The H-2B nonimmigrant visa program US employers who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring low skilled foreign workers to the United States to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs.

Half of those visas are made available for workers who begin their jobs in the first half of the fiscal year. "We will carefully review the details of the rule and communicate best next steps to our members to ensure they have the information necessary to quickly get approved seasonal workers to the U.S.to support full-time, domestic staff to operate at full capacity". "While I have some concerns about the timeline for granting the additional visas, I look forward to working with Secretary Kelly and my colleagues in Congress on ways to provide more long-term certainty for America's seasonal small businesses".

A group of United States companies that use the visas, called the "the H-2B Workforce Coalition", praised the "minimal relief granted".

Some employers have complained that relief on the issue was coming too late into the season, given the two months it took DHS to take action on increasing the visa cap.

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It would fill unskilled jobs offered by USA companies to keep their businesses going as Americans do not want to take them. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin of IL and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), who both previously wrote to Homeland Security raising concerns about the H-2B program, issued a statement in reaction to Homeland Security's announcement.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump has signed a proclamation to kick off the "Made in America" week and urged the public to pay respect to those Americans who work to make the country great.

As both the Palm Beach Post and CNN have reported, President Trump's Mar-a-Lago club utilizes the H-2B visa program to hire seasonal workers.

This move is meant to jumpstart American businesses that have been suffering because of a shortage of such labor, the Department of Homeland Security said in a statement. "This does help with American businesses continuing to prosper".

DHS did not respond to a request for comment on how Trump's emphasis on American labor and his rhetoric toward immigrants might affect the recruitment of foreign workers.

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