Donald J. Trump on Twitter: "H1-B holders in the United States can rest assured that changes are soon coming which will bring both simplicity and certainty to your stay, including a potential path to citizenship. We want to encourage talented and highly skilled people to pursue career options in the U.S."
National Hispanic Landscape Alliance (NHLA) executive director Ralph Egües issued a statement in response to the President’s tweet, addressing the critical need for reform in the H-2B seasonal worker visa program that is currently severely underserved.
“The NHLA applauds the President’s efforts to reform the H-1B program, which is so important to securing a strong talent pipeline for specialty industries. We seek the President's support in addressing the greater need for additional H-2B visas for seasonal workers as well. Reputable businesses across the country are being crippled by the inability to fill jobs to meet seasonal peak demand for services. The effect on their customers, on their existing workforce and on the economic growth of their respective communities is great. We strongly urge the President to take action, and to encourage Congress to provide thoughtful and lasting legislative solutions to the H-2B visa shortage crisis we are currently facing.”
If Congress does not provide significant and permanent H-2B cap relief, there may be severe consequences for seasonal businesses and the economy generally. Some seasonal businesses denied access to the program due to the insufficient cap have already been forced to scale back their operations, cancel or default on contracts, lay off full-time U.S. workers, and in some cases, shutter their operations entirely. Continuing with the status quo of failing to reform the H-2B program is going to result in more closures or scale-backs for these businesses. In any agreement to end the current partial lapse in government funding, constituents and seasonal business owners relying on this vital program are owed a thoughtful and lasting legislative solution to the H-2B visa shortage.
Details regarding the current status of H-2B seasonal worker program crisis include:
- The NHLA has been working in a bipartisan, bicameral fashion for years to find an acceptable, permanent legislative solution to the problems plaguing the H-2B program.
- As recent filings show, there is no doubt that the statutory cap of 66,000, which was set more than three decades ago, is wholly inadequate to meet the demands of today’s seasonal businesses.
- Recently, due to the strong national economy, employers have struggled to find U.S. workers for seasonal positions, which are, on average, six- to nine-month jobs.
- This increased demand, coupled with Congress’s inability to meaningfully reform the program to meet the economy’s needs, has caused an increasingly urgent issue of visa scarcity in which employers are simply unable to attain sufficient workers to meet their labor demands.
- This year, shortly after midnight on January 1, 2019, the Department of Labor’s iCERT system, through which employers seeking H-2B workers request temporary labor certifications—a necessary step in the H-2B application process—was inundated with a record number of requests and almost immediately crashed.
- In the brief moments before system failure, iCERT received in excess of 97,000 applications for the 33,000 available visas for the second half of the fiscal year. The iCERT system’s failure is a direct and predictable result of Congress’ inability to address the insufficient availability of H-2B visas.