Bipartisan group of lawmakers urge Homeland Security, Labor Department to increase visas for seasonal workers

A bipartisan group of 87 members of Congress are urging the secretaries of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor to approve the H-2B petitions to increase the number of visas for seasonal summer workers.

Last week, Congress authorized the departments to raise the number of H-2B visas allocated by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Previously the number had been capped at 66,000 annually – 33,000 for each half of the fiscal year. That cap was reached on March 13th of this year, however, with many small businesses still in need of seasonal employees to support their operations as the summer months approach.

“Now that this omnibus has been signed into law, we encourage you to take swift and decisive action to ensure that small and seasonal businesses in our states can get the workers necessary to ensure a successful season,” the lawmakers wrote. “Due to the time-sensitive nature of seasonal businesses, we also encourage you to take immediate steps to re-open the petition process and adjudicate any pending labor certifications that demonstrate the requirements set in the legislation,” the members of Congress wrote the departments.

The lawmakers said its imperative to move quickly because these seasonal businesses do the majority of their business during the summer.

“Unfortunately, delays in processing times within both DOL and DHS have caused a great deal of frustration and uncertainty among seasonal businesses,” they wrote. “We encourage DHS and DOL to make efforts to allow for efficient processing for additional applications. This will not only help to alleviate concerns among employers, but it will also reduce the inevitable time-consuming inquiries to your agencies. By taking the necessary steps now, your agencies can streamline the process and help employers get their employees sooner.”

The request was signed by 87 members of the House and Senate, including U.S. Sens Angus King (I-Maine) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Reps. Andy Harris (R-MD) and Bill Keating (D-MA).