The U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Monday announced it would allow 15,000 more foreign workers to obtain temporary non-immigrant visas due to a shortage of qualified laborers in the United States.
John Kelly, Department of Homeland Security secretary, said he discussed with Labour Secretary Alexander Acosta to determine if there are not enough qualified and willing U.S. workers available to do temporary non-agricultural labour to meet the needs of U.S. businesses in FY 2017.
In May, lawmakers gave Kelly authority to approve up to an additional 70,000 temporary visas at his discretion on a need basis. In the statement, the department said Kelly was concerned Congress was "passing the buck" by not designating a specific number of visas and hoped the one-time occurrence was an anomaly.
According to the Departments of Homeland Security, to qualify for the additional visas, petitioners must attest, under penalty of perjury, that their business is likely to suffer irreparable harm if it can not employ H-2B non-immigrant workers during fiscal year (FY) 2017.
Half of those visas are made available for workers who begin their jobs in the first half of the fiscal year.
Those seeking the extra visas "must attest, under penalty of perjury, that their business is likely to suffer irreparable harm if it can not employ H-2B nonimmigrant workers during fiscal year (FY) 2017", according a release from the department.
The real estate magnate-turned-president relied heavily on seasonal workers at his hotels and resorts, and campaigned on promises to restore American jobs.
Kelly, who in May said he planned to grant additional visas, received approval from congress to authorise additional visas.
While applicant spots must be shared with other members of the H-2B coalition, the cap increase provides a measured boost to the Thoroughbred industy. After consulting with the Dept. of Labor, it was determined that companies would be "significantly harmed" if they weren't able to bring in foreign workers for the season.
Senior DHS officials said on a call with reporters that the move still satisfied Trump's "America First" agenda.
"We're going to stand up for our companies and maybe most importantly for our workers", the Republican president said.
The increased visa allocation coincides with President Donald Trump's "Made in America" Week, which seeks to promote American workers and products.
Jane Nichols Bishop, who runs an agency in Mashpee, Massachusetts, that works to secure visas for local businesses, said earlier this month that the H2B program serves to fill temporary, often minimum-wage jobs that Americans don't apply for.
But, a 2015 Buzzfeed report showed that many businesses prefer to hire foreign guest workers over Americans to cut costs and limit legal liability.
A notice about the extra H-2B visas will be posted later this week in the Federal Register.
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