The Biden administration will make an additional 22,000 seasonal guest-worker visas available this year ahead of the busy summer season, the Department of Homeland Security said Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal
The visas are in addition to the 66,000 H-2B visas the government makes available each year to seasonal employers, including landscapers, fisheries, resorts and county fairs, which look to add staff for their busy seasons.
The decision comes just weeks after the Biden administration lifted a ban on the guest-worker visas and other work visas imposed by the Trump administration last June amid the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic.
Six thousand of those additional visas will be set aside for applicants from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, which together are sending the largest number of migrant families and children to the U.S. border seeking asylum.
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. Congress permits the Department of Homeland Security each year to raise that cap by as many as 64,000 additional visas.
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 U.S. 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 the program requires them to continue recruitment of Americans even after foreign laborers are hired.
Employers submitted applications for nearly 97,000 summer-season positions this year, and the 33,000 available visas for the season were all taken by Feb. 24, according to government data.
Agricultural guest workers fall under the separate H-2A visa program, which has no limit set by Congress.