United States increases annual temporary worker quota

Up to 30,000 more foreign workers will temporarily be allowed into the United States for seasonal work between now and the end of September.

The visas will be granted only to returning foreign workers who have held the H-2B visa before during the last three fiscal years.

Details of the plan were in a draft rule obtained by The Associated Press. Many of the visa holders tend to return to the same employers year after year, so have already been vetted and are trusted and not likely to stay past their visa,

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin taking applications from employers on behalf of the workers once the temporary rule is published in the Federal Register. This is expected to happen on Wednesday.

The strong economy in the United States has made it increasingly difficult for American employers to find labour. The number of H-2B visas awarded each year is been capped at 66,000 per fiscal year — a figure many businesses and lawmakers say is badly outdated, especially when the unemployment rate is the lowest it’s been in 49 years.

In March, a group of senators had written to the Department of Homeland Security, asking them to raise the number of available visas above the 66,000 statutory annual cap.

“The continued tightening of the labour market warrants this increase,” wrote the senators, who argued that that many areas of the country lack a working-age population to fill the demand for seasonal jobs.

The H-2B work visas, which allow employers to hire foreign workers for temporary, non-agricultural jobs, will be restricted to businesses who would “suffer irreparable harm” without the additional workers, USCIS announced on Monday.

Article published 7th May 2019