Biden administration announces plan to increase seasonal-worker visas

WASHINGTON — The Department of Homeland Security said that it will make an additional 35,000 H-2B visas available to employers ahead of the summer season, according to the Wall Street Journal.

It’s the largest release of additional visas for the summer since 2017, when Congress changed the rules governing the amount of seasonal-worker visas.

They will be available to employers that are looking for temporary workers between April 1 and Sept. 30.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas told the Journal that the move was “informed by current demand in the labor market,” and would “help to support American businesses and expand legal pathways for workers seeking to come to the United States.”

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox joined seven other U.S. governors in urging President Joe Biden to increase the number of temporary foreign workers under a variety of exchange or workers visas earlier this year.

“We’re pleased to see the Biden administration address workforce shortages and make more visas available,” Gov. Cox said Thursday.

More from the WSJ:

The seasonal-worker program, known as the H-2B visa program, enables U.S. employers to hire as many as 66,000 temporary foreign workers a year, with the allotments split evenly between the winter and summer seasons. Since 2017, Congress has permitted the department each year to raise that cap by as many as 64,000 additional visas, though neither the Trump nor Biden administrations have approached that limit despite demand.

In order for employers to hire a foreign worker on an H-2B visa, they must first attempt to recruit an American worker and receive certification from the Labor Department that there are none available to do the job. The program comes with requirements on how much employers must pay the workers, so they aren’t paid less than American counterparts, and employers must continue recruiting Americans even after foreign laborers are hired.

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