President Trump recently signed into law a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill that averts a government shutdown and addresses labor issues such as H-2B visas and overtime, according to www.constructiondive.com.
One provision of the bill allows the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to raise the number of H-2B visas for temporary nonfarm foreign workers from the annual 66,000 cap to 129,547.
Foreign seasonal workers are crucial for employers in industries such as construction and landscaping, but the current state of the H-2B visa program could leave many employers struggling without the help they need this summer.
The only foreign worker visa available to U.S. companies to bring in skilled or unskilled construction labor is the H-2B temporary non-agricultural workers visa. To secure such a visa for a foreign-born laborer, the open position must be one-time or seasonal that cannot be filled by a U.S. citizen.
The potential increase in the number of H-2B visas available could be good news for employers that depend on foreign seasonal workers. Visa applications for temporary workers for the 2018 spring and summer months already met the cap in December 2017; three times as many applications were submitted in January compared with a year ago.