Homeland Security to allow 15000 more visas for seasonal workers

John kelly AP FBN

Businesses can apply for the visas starting this week and foreign workers can stay employed from four to 10 months.

Advocates of a tight immigration policy, including many on the right who helped propel President Donald Trump's campaign, have claimed seasonal worker visas depress wages and take jobs away from USA workers. There is a cap on the total number of foreign workers who may be issued an H-2B visa or otherwise granted H-2B status during a fiscal year.

But unlike H-2B visas, there is no provision to increase the visa cap of H-1B work visas.

However, Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly disagrees.

According to a statement from the DHS, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Labor Secretary Acosta found that there were not enough "qualified and willing" US workers to fill businesses' needs.

Mr Kelly said that Congress has given him "discretional authority to provide temporary relief" for American businesses that are going to suffer without seasonal workers.

"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", he said.

DHS made a decision to increase the amount of H-2B visas allowed after consulting with the Department of Labor, and was given the authority to do so in the omnibus spending bill that Congress recently approved. USCIS will stop accepting petitions after September 15 or after the cap is reached, whichever occurs first.

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Federal officials said there were not enough qualified and willing American workers available to perform certain types of temporary nonagricultural work.

Current law limits the number of such visas issued to 66,000 a year - split between two halves of the year. "We're asking these businesses to attest that if they do not get additional workers they will be harmed, so this does help with American businesses continuing to prosper".

"This is yet another example of the administration and Congress failing to keep the Trump campaign promise of putting American workers first", He added. Trump's own businesses, including his resort Mar-a-Lago, have used the program.

Criticism from Congress was bipartisan in nature, exemplified by a joint reproach from Iowa's Senator Chuck Grassley (R) and Senator Dick Durbin (D) of IL.

The DHS blamed Congress for delaying the decision being made about the hiring of seasonal workers and pushing it into summer and announced that they are "committed to protecting USA workers and strengthening the integrity of the United States immigration system".

But Congress did not renew the returnees exemption when it expired last fall, effectively curbing the number of available visas.

FAIR previously warned the administration against increasing the number of low-skilled guest workers when Secretary Kelly first announced he was inclined to do so.

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