Kelly says cap on temporary worker visas being raised to stave off harm to U.S. businesses

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly said after he met recently with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta he concluded the nation faces a shortage of U.S. workers available to perform temporary nonagricultural labor.

Damage to U.S. businesses facing that scarcity may possibly be alleviated by the recent decision by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Labor Department to allow hiring under the “H-2B” program, a DHS release said.

“Congress gave me the discretionary authority to provide temporary relief to American businesses at risk of significant harm due to a lack of available seasonal workers,” Kelly said in the release. “As a demonstration of the administration’s commitment to supporting American businesses, DHS is providing this one-time increase to the congressionally set annual cap.”

The H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Worker Program “allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs,” according to the DHS website.

Criteria for eligibility include petition procedures for additional work visas, the release said. Applicants are required to confirm that their operation “is likely to suffer irreparable harm” without hiring H-2B workers during the current 2017 fiscal year.

Applicants must demonstrate that their respective businesses cannot locate enough U.S. workers; that hiring H-2B workers will not negatively impact others’ wages and conditions; and that the need is strictly temporary –either  a one-time or seasonal occurrence, the release said.

The H-2B cap on the number of foreign nationals who may obtain H-2B status is currently designated as 66,000 per fiscal year.

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