Homeland Security Makes 15,000 More H-2B Work Visas Available

The Department of Homeland Security said the expansion will offer "relief to American businesses in danger of suffering irreparable harm."
SMS
Homeland Security Makes 15,000 More H-2B Work Visas Available

The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday it's making 15,000 more H-2B visas available for foreign workers.

H-2B visas are granted for temporary, nonagricultural foreign workers in cases where there aren't enough American workers willing or able do the job.

According to DHS, American businesses seeking these visas for foreign workers must prove "there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work."

Congress caps the number of visas at 66,000 per fiscal year.

Half of those visas are made available for workers who begin their jobs in the first half of the fiscal year. The rest are for those who start in the second half of the fiscal year.

The department's move to make 15,000 more visas available is a one-time thing. They are only available through the end of the current fiscal year, which is Sept. 30.

Those seeking the extra visas "must attest, under penalty of perjury, that their business is likely to suffer irreparable harm if it cannot employ H-2B nonimmigrant workers during fiscal year (FY) 2017," according a release from the department.

At his inaugural address on Jan. 20, President Donald Trump said: "We will follow two simple rules: Buy American and hire American."

Given that statement, you may be wondering why the administration would expand the program. 

The department has described the move as offering "relief to American businesses in danger of suffering irreparable harm" by not having enough workers.

In May, Congress gave DHS Secretary John Kelly the authority to boost the number of H-2B visas for the rest of the fiscal year.

Last month, a bipartisan group of senators urged Kelly to act quickly in order to help seasonal business fill positions for the summer. They also requested that Kelly make available the full number of visas Congress authorized him to allow — nearly double the current cap.

But the expansion is likely too late for businesses that rely on the program to fill their summer jobs. 

DHS stated that since Congress authorized Kelly to expand the program, he consulted with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta and took time to "properly develop this rule" to meet Congressional requirements.

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.