What the Surge in H-2B Visas Could Mean for You

construction workers, immigrationThere have been far more H-2B visa applications than the number of visas that are available and, for many businesses, the lack of availability will cause irreparable harm. The annual cap for H-2B visas is 66,000. Unfortunately, the current allowance is inadequate to meet the demands of the growing economy. Without additional visas available, many businesses that depend on H-2B workers won’t be able to fill positions. As a result, they may be forced to turn away customers and reduce the level of work for American workers.

Surge in H-2B Visa Applications

H-2B visas are available for seasonal and temporary non-agricultural workers. Industries that rely on these workers include amusement parks, carnivals, construction, landscaping, production, and others. These businesses apply for H-2B visas so they can fill open positions with foreign workers. However, the U.S. Department of Labor announced in February that there had been an unprecedented surge in applications. Many companies that rely on foreign workers may be unable to fill their positions this year.

What Might Happen

Companies that are unable to find U.S. workers to fill their open positions often rely on the H-2B visa program to get the workers that they need. If they are unable to get enough visas, they may not be able to fill all of their open jobs. This could have a negative financial impact on the companies. In February, more than 100 trade groups joined together to send a letter urging Congress to raise the cap on H-2B visas. Congress is able to raise the cap but has not done so this year. According to the trade groups, the unavailability of enough H-2B visas jeopardizes small businesses everywhere. Seasonal and temporary workers help support many other jobs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce reports that each H-2B worker creates and sustains about 4.64 American jobs

What Businesses Should Do

Employers that know they will need foreign workers next year should submit their H-2B visa applications as soon as possible once the application period opens. Applying early may make it likelier that a company will be able to get enough workers to fill all of their jobs during the next season. Some employers this year have turned to creative recruiting methods in an effort to attract more U.S. workers.