- U.S.-based employers submitted 82,100 petitions for H-2B foreign guest workers for the spring and summer seasons, SHRM reports. That number exceeds the 33,000 H-2B visas available to employers during the first half of the 2017 fiscal year.
- H-2B visas allow foreign nationals into the U.S. to fill temporary, low-skilled jobs, including those in forestry, landscaping, recreation and hospitality.
- Congress allots 33,000 H-2B visas for the first half of each fiscal year (Oct. 1 to March 31) and 33,000 for the second half (April 1 to Sept. 30). Typically, any unused visas for the first half of the year can be used for the second half. But the cap for the first half of FY 2017 was met on Jan. 12, says SHRM.
Employers only hire the number of workers they need, which means the demand for seasonal workers this spring and summer through H-2B visas is immense.
In 2015, the U.S. departments of Labor and Homeland Security issued rules to reinstate the H-2B visa program, improve it and establish wage levels.
But given the number of petitions that exceeded the cap, Congress and business leaders might not have worked out an exact solution to how employers can get the workers they need.
The visa program situation has been anything but a simple matter for employers so far under the Trump administration. On top of a controversial travel ban that may have prevented some visa-carrying workers from returning to the U.S., the similar H-1B visa system now faces its own overhaul.