External Affairs

Trump Administration Announces 15,000 Additional H-2B Visas

US President-elect Donald Trump addresses the "Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration" at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, US January 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar/File Photo

US President-elect Donald Trump addresses the “Make America Great Again! Welcome Celebration” at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, US January 19, 2017. Credit: Reuters/Mike Segar

Washington: 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, Trump Administration has 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 non-agricultural workers under the H-2B programme, the Department of Homeland Security said yesterday.

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 (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 nonagricultural labour to satisfy the needs of some American businesses in FY 2017.

H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Worker program was designed to serve US businesses unable to find a sufficient number of qualified US workers to perform nonagricultural 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.

(PTI)