U.S. Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, both R-Wyo., joined a bipartisan group of senators advocating for H-2B visa cap relief for seasonal employers in any upcoming government funding agreement.
The H-2B visa program allows American businesses to temporarily hire workers from other countries when there are not enough able and willing American workers to fill temporary positions. These visas are often relied on in areas with seasonal tourism.
In a letter, which was sent to the Senate majority leader, minority leader, and the chairman and vice chairman of the Appropriations Committee, the senators stressed that there are not enough U.S. workers available to meet the seasonal demand for employment – and that these seasonal positions support the jobs of thousands of American citizens.
“The shortage of U.S. workers during the last several years has demonstrated that without needed guest workers, seasonal businesses are simply unable to meet their staffing needs. They have been forced to limit hours of operation, turn away customers, scale back service, and cancel capital equipment purchases,” the senators wrote. “In some cases, businesses were forced to lay off Americans whose jobs are supported by H-2B workers—or shut down their operations entirely. Seasonal businesses need meaningful and lasting cap relief so they can continue to contribute to the economy and create full-time, year-round work for Americans. According to the American Enterprise Institute, every H-2B worker is estimated to create and sustain 4.64 American jobs.
“In a strong economy with record-low unemployment, the H-2B program’s congressionally mandated cap of 66,000 visas is inadequate to meet the labor needs of seasonal businesses. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) continues to report that the number of job openings actually exceeds the labor pool. Meaningful cap relief is needed to allow our seasonal businesses to supplement their workforce in the growing number of instances when Americans are not available to fill temporary positions.”The letter was led by U.S. Senators Angus King, I-Maine, and Mike Rounds, R-S.D. Read the full letter here.