By Roy Maurer, Jun 1, 2018
Employers that can demonstrate that their business is at risk of failing without an infusion of foreign seasonal workers
will have the chance to petition for help this summer.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is authorizing 15,000 additional H-2B visas for use in fiscal year (FY) 2018,
which runs through September 30. The extra numbers are on top of the 66,000 H-2B visas already issued this fiscal year.
The H-2B visa program allows U.S. employers to hire foreign nationals during peak seasons, primarily in landscaping,
hospitality, seafood processing and recreation jobs. Congress has set the H-2B visa cap at 66,000 per fiscal year, with
33,000 visas granted for workers who begin jobs in the first half of the 12-month period (Oct. 1-March 31) and 33,000 visas for
workers who begin jobs in the second half (April 1-Sept. 30).
Businesses and industry groups, citing labor workforce needs, have pressured the DHS for months to release additional
H-2B visas. Congress authorized the additional numbers in the FY 2018 spending package that it passed in March. The same
number of additional visas were also authorized in FY 2017, although at a much later date, in late July, leading many seasonal
employers to say the assistance came too late.
“Once again, the delays from the administration in taking action to issue additional H-2B visas has caused extreme financial
stress and potential closures to employers who rely on the H-2B program year after year to meet their labor needs,” said
Loan Huynh, an attorney who works on the issue in the Minneapolis office of Fredrikson & Byron. “These employers have
already documented that there are no able and willing U.S. workers to meet their labor needs. The administration took more
than two months to take action after Congress gave it authority to provide relief to employers.”