The Trump administration announced on March 5 that employers in Texas and around the country will be able to hire 35,000 more temporary foreign workers in 2020. The White House says that additional H-2B visas will be made available to help American businesses cope with the nation’s tight labor market. H-2B visas are issued to foreign workers who fill temporary or seasonal non-agricultural jobs. U.S. immigration law sets the annual number of H-2B visas at 66,000, but administrations are permitted to raise or lower this figure based on prevailing economic conditions.
The move is likely to be opposed by some of President Trump’s most ardent supporters who claim that allowing more foreign workers into the country will suppress wages for Americans. However, their calls are unlikely to gain much traction as the measure has broad bipartisan support. Think tanks like the Migration Policy Institute have also called for an increase in H-2B visas.
Trump has made restricting immigration a focus of his administration, but he has often been willing to soften his position to encourage economic growth. Trump increased the number of available H-2B visas by 30,000 in 2019 and 15,000 in 2017 and 2018. Almost a third of the additional temporary work visas will be issued to seasonal workers from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador because the governments of these countries have worked with the Trump administration to reduce the number of asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border.
Employment-based visa programs allow employers to cope with temporary or seasonal spikes in demand, but the rules are strict and minor paperwork delays or mistakes can lead to delays or denials. Attorneys with experience in this area could help employers to avoid such pitfalls by ensuring that visa applications are completed properly, submitted on time and accompanied by relevant supporting documents.