One of the first orders of business of the White House’s “Made in America” week is providing companies the opportunity to hire foreign workers under the H-2B visa program.
The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that it will add 15,000 seasonal visas to fill H-2B non-agricultural jobs. The annual cap, set by Congress, is 66,000. In its statement, the department said that after consulting with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, Secretary John Kelly “determined there are not enough qualified and willing U.S. workers available to perform temporary nonagricultural labor to satisfy the needs of some American businesses in FY 2017.”
“Congress gave me the discretionary authority to provide temporary relief to American businesses at risk of significant harm due to a lack of available seasonal workers,” Kelly said in the statement. “As a demonstration of the Administration’s commitment to supporting American businesses, DHS is providing this one-time increase to the congressionally set annual cap.”
The H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Worker Program allows U.S. employers to hire from abroad to fill temporary jobs in situations where there are “not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work,” as explained by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In order to qualify, businesses must demonstrate that they have exhausted their options. The Department of Labor, for example, requires businesses to place job advertisements on two separate days in an effort to hire domestically. As BuzzFeed News reported in 2015, there is evidence that companies only make cursory efforts to hire Americans simply to fill the requirement so they can go on to hire foreign workers for less pay.