Employers in California and around the country are likely pleased to see the economy booming. However, finding workers to fill low-skilled jobs is becoming increasingly difficult. President Trump has repeatedly said that even legal immigration is a threat to American jobs, but pleas from the business sector and the lowest unemployment level in decades seems to have prompted him to soften his position on the issue. According to media reports, Trump is planning to allow U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to issue an additional 30,000 H-2B visas to foreign seasonal workers.
Employers will be able submit H-2B visa applications after the rule change is published in the Federal Register. Many of the foreign workers who will be granted these visas will be employed in seasonal industries like fishing, tourism and hospitality that have been lobbying Congress for years to increase the 66,000 annual H-2B visa cap. The Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security answered these calls in 2017 and 2018 by allowing an additional 15,000 visas to be issued to employers who could show that they would suffer irreparable harm if they were not able to hire more workers.
The additional visas are not expected to cause many administrative problems as they will only be issued to people who have previously worked in the U.S. This means that vetting procedures will be swift and overstays unlikely. Some observers say that the rule change suggests that Trump’s position on legal immigration is evolving. During his recent State of the Union address, he told Congress that he wanted to see the largest influx of legal immigrants in the country’s history.
The foreign workers who receive H-2B visas will only be permitted to remain in the U.S. temporarily. Those seeking to stay longer may apply for family-based visas or another type of employment-based visa. Attorneys with experience in family immigration matters could explain how these programs work to individuals hoping for a new life in America.