Congress and the Trump Administration’s refusal to extend existing H2-B visas and delay authorization of new ones came at significant cost to American businesses, but also led to hiring Americans to fill seasonal roles previously occupied by foreign workers, Politico reports.
The H2-B visa program allows American companies to apply for visas to hire foreign nationals to work in the United States for a predetermined period of time. Right now, just 66,000 H2-B visas are available every year; the Trump Administration authorized an additional 15,000, but did not do so until July of this year.
American employers must, as part of applying for H2-B visas, prove they advertised the jobs and could not fill them with American workers. Employers often say they cannot find American workers to staff seasonal jobs like fishing, processing poultry and landscaping, leading them to turn to foreign workers. If they can hire Americans, employers often have to pay them more.
Trump’s own companies, particularly the Mar-a-Lago resort, hire dozens of foreign workers as cooks, servers, and more.
Critics of the H2-B visa program say that businesses use the arrangement to underpay workers, because a worker’s status in the United States is entirely dependent on the company sponsoring them to work. The Government Accountability Office has found that participants in the H2-B visa program are “targets” of fraud and abuse.
The Department of Citizenship and Immigration Services (part of the Department of Homeland Security) says workers hired under the H2-B program are eligible to work up to one year before the visa must be renewed. Visas may be renewed up to three years, at which point workers are required to leave the United States for 3 uninterrupted months before re-applying.