Homeland Security to allow 15,000 more visas for seasonal workers

Homeland Security to allow 15,000 more visas for seasonal workers
© Keren Carrion

The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday it would expand the number of temporary visas granted this year for workers in seasonal non-agricultural industries like tourism.

In a statement, DHS said Homeland Security Secretary John KellyJohn Francis KellyMORE had consulted with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta and determined there were not enough “qualified and willing U.S. workers” to fill the needs of businesses.


“Congress gave me the discretionary authority to provide temporary relief to American businesses in danger of suffering irreparable harm due to a lack of available temporary workers,” Kelly said in a statement. 

“As a demonstration of the administration’s commitment to supporting American businesses, DHS is providing this one-time increase to the congressionally set annual cap.”

The number of H-2B visas had been capped for this year at 66,000.

Businesses have been vocal in demanding an expansion of the H-2B program, saying there are not enough American workers to fill the temporary jobs they need to operate.

In February, Mar-a-Lago, President Trump's Florida resort, announced it would hire 64 workers under the program. 

Skilled foreign non-agricultural workers on H-2B visas are used widely in the tourism industry, as well as industries as wide-ranging as horse racing, meat packing and landscaping.

Proponents of reduced immigration were quick to criticize the move, saying the U.S.-based workforce will suffer because of the 15,000 new permits.

“Sec. Kelly's decision to increase H-2B foreign workers threatens to reverse the trend of reports emerging around the country of employers working harder and raising pay to successfully recruit more unemployed Americans for lower-skilled jobs,” said Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, an organization that advocates for reduced immigration.