U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, both R-Wyo., signed a bipartisan, bicameral letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen urging the administration to immediately increase the statutory cap of H-2B visas for Fiscal Year 2019 as authorized by the recent appropriations package (Pub. L. 116-6).
The appropriations package signed into law last month authorizes the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor, to release up to approximately 69,320 additional H-2B visas for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2019.
“Given the near historic low unemployment rate, the constant oversubscription to the program and its importance to our local economies, we strongly urge you to use the discretion afforded your office in the most recent appropriations bill to release, without delay and to the greatest extent allowed by law, additional H-2B visas sufficient to meet the certified demand of our seasonal employers,” they wrote. “If significant H-2B cap relief is not provided, there will be severe consequences for seasonal businesses and our economy generally.”
The letter, led by U.S. Senators Mike Rounds, R-S.D., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and U.S. Representatives Andy Harris, R-Md., and Chellie Pingree, D-Maine, was signed by 138 members of Congress.
Important facts about the H-2B Visa Program
- H-2B workers support American jobs and small businesses. Every H-2B worker creates or sustains 4.64 American jobs on average, according to a study conducted by the American Enterprise Institute.
- As required by law, employers must first make a concerted effort to hire American workers to fill open positions. H-2B visas fill needs for American small businesses when there are not enough able and willing American workers to fill the temporary, seasonal positions.
- Employers often have to spend more money to hire temporary H-2B workers, who are paid a prevailing wage that is set by the U.S. Department of Labor.
To read the letter, click here.