H-2B: Three Times More Demand Than Supply

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Many of our members submitted petitions to the Department of Labor (DOL) for H-2B workers on or around January 1 for jobs slated to begin work on April 1. This H-2B filing period marks the first time that the DOL used a computer generated “lottery” filing process to group petitions into priority groups for processing. DOL will process petitions in group A before moving on to groups B, C and D. Our members were notified on January 5 which processing group their petitions were assigned to. We have heard from members with petitions in each of the groups.

According to a January 8 DOL notice, “Group A includes enough worker positions to reach the H-2B semi-annual visa allotment of 33,000. Four additional Assignment Groups were created for the remaining applications, each of which includes no more than 20,000 worker positions.”

Given that DOL received 5,677 H-2B applications covering 99,362 worker positions with an April 1 date of need, it is clear that only one out of three seasonal employers will receive the workers they need this spring unless there is swift action by the Homeland Security secretary to release more visas. Under the law, DHS may release additional visas this year if it determines that the needs of seasonal businesses cannot be met with American workers. DHS calculates the number of additional visas it could release to total 64,716 visas.

Several of our Congressional champions are circulating a letter asking the Department of Homeland Security to make these visas immediately available to H-2B filers. Reps. Harris (R-MD), Pingree (D-ME), Bergman (R-MI) and Keating (D-MA) and Senators King (I-ME) and Rounds (R-SD) are circulating the letter to the Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf, asking that he immediately release all of the additional H-2B visas authorized under the law. We hope that this letter will garner an overwhelming number of signatures from Members of Congress and Senators to send a clear message to DHS that we need quick action to address the H-2B cap.

AmericanHort and the H-2B Workforce Coalition, which we co-chair, are also lobbying for immediate DHS action. We appreciate your taking a few minutes to weigh in again with your lawmakers to help us in the fight and ensure that the labor needs of our members are met this spring. The Congressional letter will close on January 16, so if you are reading this before then, there is still time! Send a message to your Representative now!

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