DHS announced an 15,000 H-2B temporary visas will be available in Fiscal Year 2018, in addition to the 66,000 visas issued this year.
Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen made the decision after consulting with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, members of Congress and business owners.
H-2B visas are for temporary non-agricultural workers, a program designed to serve American businesses unable to find a sufficient number of qualified seasonal workers in industries such as hospitality.
“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,” Nielsen said in a statement issued by DHS.
“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,” she continued. “As secretary, I remain committed to protecting U.S. workers and strengthening the integrity of our lawful immigration system and look forward to working with Congress to do so.”
The Boston Globe reported the increase in demand for foreign workers is due to the low national unemployment rate and scarcity of Americans willing to work during seasonal time periods.
Congress delegated its authority to the Secretary to increase the number of temporary visas available to U.S. employers through Sept. 30 in the Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus. During the intervening time in enacting Fiscal Year 2018, Nielsen consulted with Acosta and developed the rule.
“DHS is committed to ensuring that our immigration system is implemented lawfully and that American workers are protected,” the department stated. “If members of the public have information that a participating employer may be abusing this program, DHS invites them to submit information to ReportH2BAbuse@uscis.dhs.gov and include information identifying the H-2B petitioning employer and relevant information that leads them to believe that the H-2B petitioning employer is abusing the H-2B program.”