DHS announces boost in seasonal worker visas during WH 'Made i

Rosalie Stanley
July 19, 2017

USA business will be able to hire an additional 15,000 foreign workers under the H-2B visa program through the end of September, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday.

According to DHS, the US already reached its annual limit of 66,000 H-2B visas earlier in 2017.

Part of the deal included giving the secretary of homeland security the authority to increase the number of foreign workers, after consulting with the secretary of labor, "upon determination that the needs of American businesses can not be satisfied in fiscal year 2017 with United States workers who are willing, qualified, and able to perform temporary nonagricultural labor".

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

Since 2015, however, some returning workers were able to participate beyond the cap, increasing the number of H-2B visas issued a year ago to almost 85,000, according to State Department data. H-1B has a Congressional cap of 65,000 visas.

Kelly, who in May said he planned to grant additional visas, received approval from congress to authorise additional visas.

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The Trump administration on Monday kicked off a three-week Made in America campaign to promote US-made products and encourage USA businesses to hire more Americans.

DHS said the government had created a tip line to report any abuse of the visas or employer violations.

Businesses can apply for the visas starting this week and foreign workers can stay employed from four to 10 months.

Still, senior DHS officials insisted the policy fits Trumps self-styled "America First" agenda because it will help American businesses.

Trump vowed during the campaign to discourage businesses from using foreign workers and to focus on hiring Americans first.

Sarah Mace Diment, the owner of a bed and breakfast in Ogunquit, Maine, called the delay on the issue "ridiculous" and said that the additional visas are only a "drop in the bucket" that may not fulfill business needs. To qualify for the additional visas, petitioners must attest, under penalty of perjury, that their business is likely to suffer irreparable harm if it can not employ H-2B nonimmigrant workers during fiscal year (FY) 2017. Trump's own businesses, including his resort Mar-a-Lago, have used the program. The statement from DHS says the department determined there weren't enough qualified and willing USA workers available to fill the jobs. They are only allowed to legally stay in the U.S. if they are employed when given this visa. They were part-time jobs. Hance said there is a shortage now. Instead of adding more visas, the White House should focus "on program oversight, on rooting out bad-actor employers who violate H-2B rules, and on protecting the migrant workers who come to the United States in search of better opportunities".

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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