On behalf of the 2,500+ small and seasonal businesses the Seasonal Employment Alliance represents, we want to thank the White House, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor for recognizing the dire straits of seasonal employers by releasing 20,000 additional H-2B visas towards the FY22 first half H-2B visa allotment. In the five years of Congress granting the administration the authority to release additional visas, this is the first time DHS has released visas towards the first half visa allotment. We applaud the administration for prioritizing the needs of America’s small businesses as we seek to do our part to help build back better.
Beneficiaries of the additional visa release, such as the Alaskan Seafood Industry, will now be able to meet the demand of the American consumer while preventing a foreign takeover of our cod and salmon production. It will allow hotels in Florida and the southeast to expand room inventory, hire additional American workers and restore full restaurant service. It will allow outdoor amusement companies to operate at their scheduled fairs and festivals in the southeast and southwest this winter.
“I want to thank the Biden administration for saving my winter season and the jobs of my American workers who depend on us operating at our winter carnival events,” said John Hanschen, owner of the 5th generation family owned and operated Thomas Carnival. “With the first half fiscal year visa cap met over a month earlier than last year, we were unable to receive our H-2B workers in January as we have in the past. Currently, we do not have a sufficient number of workers to set up and operate the carnival equipment required for the crowds attending our January-March events. With this visa release, we will. This release not only benefits my company but also the local economies who depend on these fairs. These events are once-a-year highlights for the local communities where we operate, especially this year given that we had to cancel many of our events last year due to COVID.”
This release will also permit many seasonal employers, who have a need in February or March, and have filed for such in the past, to return to their true date of need. Due to the insufficient number of visas, employers, for the last several years, have postponed the start of their seasons, canceled contracts or permanently downsized their businesses to account for the reduction in their workforce.
We are also pleased to be able to build upon the allocation made to the Northern Triangle countries in the FY21 spring supplemental release with 6,500 visas allocated to Haiti and the Northern Triangle countries in this release. At SEA, we have devoted substantial resources to the policy objective of increasing H-2B program participation in the Northern Triangle countries. We are confident that with the processing improvements made over the summer, this allocation will prove to be a success and will provide a firm foundation on which to build upon in future releases.
This program is a win win for the H-2B workers, for the American worker and for America’s small and seasonal businesses. American workers are the direct beneficiary of the additional visa release. H-2B workers do not take American jobs, they create American jobs. As the research overwhelming shows, every H-2B worker supports the jobs of between 3.2 and 4.6 American workers. To receive a certification from DOL, employers are required to canvass the local labor market and preferentially hire qualified American workers.
We look forward to continuing to work with the Biden administration on expansion of the H-2B program while ensuring the rights of American workers and H-2B workers.