U.S. Representative Rob Woodall has added his voice to a bipartisan and bicameral letter directed to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen requesting that the Trump administration use its discretion granted by the recently passed funding package to increase the number of H-2B visas for the 2019 fiscal year.
The program allows for American employers to temporarily hire foreign workers, sometimes for a few months, to fulfil peak-season demand in labor. This can only happen if they have certified that they cannot recruit Americans to perform the same job.
In the letter, the members of Congress detailed that “given the near historic low unemployment rate, the constant oversubscription to the program and its importance to our local economies, we strongly urge you to use the discretion afforded your office in the most recent appropriations bill to release, without delay and to the greatest extent allowed by law, additional H-2B visas sufficient to meet the certified demand of our seasonal employees.” They also warned that “if significant H-2B cap relief is not provided, there will be severe consequences for seasonal businesses and our economy generally.”
With the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019 that was signed into law last month, the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, while consulting with the Secretary of Labor, is authorized to release up to 69, 320 additional H-2B for the remainder of 2019.
Commenting on why there should be an increase of H-2B visas, Woodall explained that “right now, seasonal businesses in Georgia are struggling to find the workers they need to meet the demand from their consumers.” Instead of foregoing “opportunities that help their businesses grow, employers use H-2B visas to offer services that are crucial to bolstering Georgia’s vibrant economy.”
However, Woodall assured “that the Trump Administration will respond to our bipartisan letter and will understand the importance of increasing H-2B visas.”