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Release the Additional FY 2020 H-2B Visas!
The Trump Administration has announced they will release 35,000 additional H-2B visas for FY 2020.  While the overall number is good news, the administration is proposing to add several conditions which may potentially damage the program and the employers who utilize it. 
 
The supplemental H-2B visas will be made available in two groups: 20,000 for a start date of April 1st and 15,000 for a start date of May 15th. Additionally, 10,000 visas will be earmarked for nationals of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras (Northern Triangle nations).

 

In the announcement DHS emphasizes the need for stronger integrity and reform measures including:

  • Requiring matching start dates on an H-2B petition and the employer’s start date of need;
  • Collaborating with the Department of Labor on increased employer site visits; and,
  • Generally limiting the supplemental visas to returning workers, who are known to follow immigration law in good faith
 
In addition, DHS officials notified congressional offices: 
  1. The first group of 20,000 visas – 10,000 will be allocated to Returning Workers under the RWE and 10,000 from nationals of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.
  2. Employers will need to file a new petition with the DOL with a new May 15th date of need.
These last two updates cause serious concern as they may really limit the amount of usable H-2B visas to 10,000 due to the fact they require employers to rely on 3 nations which have had trouble with their ability to process visas.  In addition, the May 15th condition requires employers to change their date of need (potentially causing issues in future years). 

The H-2B Coalition has sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security requesting certain changes to the temporary rule in an effort to limit the harmful effect on employers. 

Please call your Representative and two Senators today and ask them to reach out to the Department of Homeland Security about additional H-2B visas.  You can reach your elected officials through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121. Once connected to the office ask to speak to the staffer who handles H-2B issues.
 
Please ask your elected officials to urge DHS to follow the requests of the H-2B Coalition sent in a formal letter to the agency. 

Background: Congressional leadership passed the major funding bills in December, including one for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) which authorized up-to an additional 64,000 H-2B visas.  In the last 3 years,we have been successful in getting some of those additional visas released but often too little or too late.  We need to have DHS release the full amount of the visas now since the cap has been met and the need far outweighs the current cap.  

Why H-2B - The Texas green industry is struggling with record low unemployment and a worker shortage which limit the ability for companies to complete their contracts and stay open for business.  Additionally the federal H-2B visa program, a non-immigrant seasonal labor program, has an arbitrary annual cap of 66,000 visas which restricts the number of companies who can participate.  Companies can only use the H-2B program if there is a certified inability to find local labor and last year the DOL certified over 147,000 positions, double the cap!  The number of visas available in the program should match the true need of the US and Texas economy.  Today each H-2B worker creates or supports 4.64 American jobs, including American managers, crew leaders, supervisors, and administrative positions. Without the necessary H-2B visas, American companies and employee will suffer.
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