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19 July 2017, 12:58 | Melanie Burgess
US boosts seasonal worker visas halfway through summer season
The Trump administration has allowed visa to 15,000 foreign workers to work in a US companies under H-2B program for this financial year.
According to a statement made available to Reuters, John Kelly, US secretary of homeland security, and Alexander Acosta, labour secretary, found out that there were not enough qualified and willing American workers to perform temporary nonagricultural work. In May, lawmakers gave Kelly authority to approve up to about 70,000 additional temporary visas and lawmakers had pleaded with him to issue more of them.
The Trump administration has announced a one-time increase of 15,000 additional H-2B visas for low-wage foreign workers after determining that the needs of United States businesses can not be satisfied with Americans willing and qualified to do the work.
The annual cap of H2-B visas is 66,000.
"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. The decision could impact North Carolina landscaping, tourism and seafood-production industries, some of which have been unable to secure workers through the program. "We will carefully review the details of the rule and communicate best next steps to our members to ensure they have the information necessary to quickly get approved seasonal workers to the U.S.to support full-time, domestic staff to operate at full capacity". The H-2B Workforce Coalition gave voice to the sector, welcoming the "minimal relief" granted them by the Federal government.
As a reminder, in December 2015, House Speaker Paul Ryan inserted into the FY 2016 omnibus a provision that exempted from the H-2B cap all low skilled workers admitted between 2013 and 2015.
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"This is yet another example of the administration and Congress failing to keep the Trump campaign promise of putting American workers first", he said.
He said, the government will stand up for American companies and American workers.
In May, Congress passed a budget bill allowing the Department of Homeland Security and the Labor Department to issue additional visas this year depending on an industry's "economic need". "We have a tremendous number of trainers who utilize these H-2Bs, so it is a big benefit to have this expansion because we've overflowed the cap, basically".
The DHS believes that there is a gap between the demands of businesses and the number of "qualified and willing USA workers", and announced on Monday that they are looking into increasing the number of seasonal workers granted access into the United States.
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