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US announces 15,000 additional H2-B visas for low-wage foreign workers

This is being done in the best interest of the businesses, the Trump administration argued.

Reported by: PTI, Washington [ Published on: July 19, 2017 11:04 IST ]
Image Source : AP US President Donald Trump

The Trump administration has announced a one-time increase of 15,000 additional H-2B visas for low-wage foreign workers after determining that the needs of US businesses cannot be satisfied with Americans willing and qualified to do the work.

This is being done in the best interest of the businesses, the Trump administration argued.

US businesses in danger of suffering irreparable harm due to a lack of available temporary non-agricultural workers will be able to hire up to 15,000 additional temporary nonagricultural workers under the H-2B programme, the Department of Homeland Security said on Monday.

To qualify for the additional visas, petitioners must attest, under penalty of perjury, that their business is likely to suffer irreparable harm if it cannot employ H-2B non-immigrant workers during fiscal year (FY) 2017.

H-2B visas are mostly for foreign farm workers. US businesses hire people from Latin American countries.

H-1B visas, which are the most sought after by Indian IT professionals, is for highly-skilled persons. H-1B has a Congressional cap of 65,000 visas.

The Trump administration is currently reviewing its H-1B policy.

Most of the American businesses, in particularly, those in the Silicon Valley say that there is a huge shortage of highly skilled people in the US and have been urging the Trump administration to increase the visa cap. The Trump administration has not come out with its policy on H1B visas yet.

But unlike H-2B visas, there is no provision to increase the visa cap of H-1B work visas.

The Department of Homeland Security on Monday said that it arrived at the decision on increasing H-2B cap after consulting with secretary of labour Alexander Acosta.

Secretary of homeland security John Kelly determined there are not enough qualified and willing US workers available to perform temporary non-agricultural labour to satisfy the needs of some American businesses in FY 2017.

H-2B Temporary Non0agricultural Worker program was designed to serve US businesses unable to find a sufficient number of qualified US workers to perform non-agricultural work of a temporary nature.

Congress has set the annual H-2B cap at 66,000.

A maximum of 33,000 H-2B visas are available during the first half of the fiscal year, and the remainder, including any unused H-2B visas, is available starting April 1 through September 30.

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