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The H-2B visa cap

Among the types of visas a U.S. company might turn to for hiring foreign workers is the H-2B visa. As we mentioned in a previous post, the H-2B visa is one of the H-2 work visas available for temporary workers. Specifically, it is for non-agricultural seasonal workers.

Now, there are challenges that can arise for U.S. companies when it comes to trying to use this type of work visa to meet their workforce needs. One is that a range of complex legal issues can come up in connection to petitioning for H-2B visas for foreign workers. So, legal guidance on the steps of the petition process and the legal issues related to these steps can be an important thing for a California company to have when it is looking to bring in foreign seasonal workers through the H-2B program.

Another thing that can pose roadblocks for U.S. companies when it comes to H-2B visas is that there is a cap on such visas. The cap has been at 66,000 a fiscal year. So, it is possible for a company to run into lack of availability when it comes to such visas.

In the past, returning seasonal workers could qualify to be exempt from the cap. However, this exception was not renewed for this year.

In the wake of this exemption not being renewed, some businesses within industries in which H-2B visas are more commonly used have expressed concerns that they will be unable to get authorization to bring in enough foreign workers to meet their workforce needs, and that this could hurt their business. Such industries include the landscaping and resort industries.

Now, there is a possibility that the H-2B visa cap could end up being raised for this fiscal year. The recently passed federal spending bill contains a provision allowing this fiscal year’s cap to be raised to around 130,000. One wonders what impacts this provision and what is ultimately done with it will have on the landscaping and resort industries and other industries that can have considerable seasonal workforce needs.

Sources: Time, “U.S. Businesses Struggle to Find Seasonal Help After Visa Restrictions on Foreign Workers,” Jennifer McDermott, May 1, 2017

Dallas News, “Congress strikes deal on temporary foreign workers used by Texas lawn companies — and Trump,” Tom Benning, May 5, 2017

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