The Department of Homeland Security announced Monday that it will be increasing the number of H-2B visas by 15,000.
According to a statement from the DHS, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly and Labor Secretary Acosta found that there were not enough "qualified and willing" U.S. workers to fill businesses' needs.
“Congress gave me the discretionary authority to provide temporary relief to American businesses in danger of suffering irreparable harm due to a lack of available temporary workers,” Kelly said in a statement.
“As a demonstration of the administration’s commitment to supporting American businesses, DHS is providing this one-time increase to the congressionally set annual cap.”
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 nonimmigrant workers during fiscal year 2017.
The temporary visas had previously been capped at 66,000 for the fiscal year.
"Though we fear this gesture may be too little too late for thousands of small businesses that rely on legal, highly vetted seasonal guest workers to meet their peak season needs, the additional visas may help save some small businesses this year," said the H2B Workforce Coalition, which is co-chaired by NALP, in a statement. "From landscapers in Colorado to innkeepers in Maine to seafood processors along the gulf coast to carnivals nationwide, we hope the visa expansion will help some businesses avoid substantial financial loss, and in some cases, prevent early business closures during their peak season. We will carefully review the details of the rule and communicate best next steps to our members to ensure they have the information necessary to quickly get approved seasonal workers to the U.S. to support full-time, domestic staff to operate at full capacity.”
In May, a bipartisan deal to fund the federal government through the end of September included language to allow the administration to nearly double the cap on H-2B workers if an economic need is determined.