SEA statement on DHS visa release

SEA thanks administration for its support of seasonal employers and for its commitment to reducing irregular migration and calls on Congress to pass a permanent reform of the program

The Seasonal Employment Alliance would like to thank the Biden administration for recognizing the importance of the H-2B program in addressing the severe labor shortage in seasonal occupations and of the program’s role in reducing irregular migration by announcing its intent to release an additional 64,716 H-2B visas for FY23.

Employers with seasonal needs, such as those in the landscaping, hospitality, seafood processing, outdoor amusement and construction industries, are facing critical labor shortages. Department of Labor data from its Job Openings and Labor Turnover Surveys (JOLTS) show that the rate of job openings have increased for all 5 industries year over year.

These employers can now plan for their upcoming seasons knowing they will have a seasonal workforce. The Alaska 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. These additional visas will allow seasonal hotels to expand room inventory, hire additional American workers and enhance their product offerings. It will allow outdoor amusement companies to operate at their scheduled fairs and festivals. And it will allow landscapers to commit to additional contracts, purchase new equipment and hire full-time, year-round American support staff.

Says David C. Witham, CEO, Witham Family Hotels, Ellsworth, ME, “We are very pleased with DHS’s proactive decision to address the H-2B visa cap crisis. The H-2B program is a critical piece of our seasonal economy here in Maine. We are greatly encouraged as we can now more confidently plan for the 2023 season knowing we will be able to operate our business with the level of service our guests have come to expect.”

Says Colon Grandy, Owner, Grandy’s Farm Market, Outer Banks, NC, “I want to express my sincere appreciation to the Biden administration for the release of additional H-2B visas. I have had the same 10 returning H-2B workers for the last 21 years. In previous years, I had to delay the opening of my small farm stand due to a lack of labor compounded by the delays in the H-2B visa releases. This is how important my H-2B workers are to my business! They are like family. What a relief it is to know that I will be opening on time in 2023! Praise God!”

Says Cameron Helms, owner of Cameron’s Inc, Indian Trails. NC, “I cannot underscore the importance of DHS’ H-2B visa release to my landscaping business. Last year, I did not receive my workers until June. I lost numerous contracts which cost my business hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue. It was a disaster. With this visa release and with DHS understanding the importance of the timing of the release, I can now plan for next year. I can take on additional contracts, purchase new equipment and commit to hiring full-time, year-round American workers. Thank you DHS!”

SEA is also pleased with the continued support for the Northern Triangle initiative. Since the initial Northern Triangle visa allocation in May of 2021, SEA has worked closely with the Northern Triangle governments, USAID and the State Department to rectify worker recruitment and processing issues faced by H-2B stakeholders. These efforts resulted in a 230% increase in H-2B visa issuances in the NT countries from 2021 to 2022.

2019-2022 NT visa issuances
We are proud of our partnership with USAID and the Northern Triangle Governments on the Northern Triangle initiative and believe that with the processing and recruitment improvements made to date, the 20,000 visa allocated to the Northern Triangle countries will be fully utilized.

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 thank the Biden administration for recognizing the H-2B program benefits to the economy and to reducing illegal immigration. This makes it even more necessary that Congress include a permanent reform of the program in the next moving legislative vehicle.

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