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Additional 30,000 H-2B visas to be issued in 2019

Many employers in states like Florida with economies that are heavily dependent on tourism have been petitioning Congress for years to increase the annual H-2B visa quota. Due largely to a surging economy and plummeting unemployment rates, the departments of Labor and Homeland Security supported increased H-2B allocations in 2017 and 2018, and 15,000 visas were added to the 66,000 yearly cap. On May 8, a temporary rule is expected to be published in the Federal Register that increases the 2019 H-2B visa quota by 30,000.

These visas are issued to allow foreign workers to take jobs in seasonal industries like agriculture and hospitality. The additional 30,000 visas authorized by the temporary rule will be granted to former H-2B recipients who have worked in the United States before, did not overstay their visas and require minimal vetting. Initial media reports do not make clear whether employers seeking the extra H-2B visas will have to establish that they could suffer irreparable harm if they are unable to hire more workers. This was a condition imposed in both 2017 and 2018.

Many observers feel that the temporary rule is an indication that President Trump is softening his position on authorized immigration. Trump said many times during his first two years in the White House that he wished to restrict all forms of immigration into the United States to protect American workers. However, Trump told Congress during his 2019 State of the Union address that he was planning to admit the largest number of legal immigrants in the nation's history.

The H-2B program is just one of many paths available to foreign immigrants who wish to work and live legally in the United States. Attorneys familiar with U.S. immigration law may assist employers that hope to hire foreign workers by ensuring that their paperwork is in order and submitted in a timely manner. Attorneys may also help keep employers in compliance with Department of Labor and Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement regulations.

Source: USA Today, Trump administration expected to add 30,000 more foreign workers temporarily into the U.S., Colleen Long, May 6, 2019

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