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US Will Add 15,000 Temporary Work Visas


Groom Cesar Abrego gives a bath to a horses following his morning workout at Churchill Downs, April 19, 2017, in Louisville, Kentucky. Abrego came from Guatemala on an H-2B visa. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley)

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will make an additional 15,000 H-2B visas available for American companies to hire low-wage foreign workers.

In a written statement on Monday, DHS Secretary John Kelly called the move a "one-time increase.”

President Donald Trump has supported a policy called "Hire American.” He wants U.S. companies to hire American workers instead of foreign ones. He has also repeatedly called to limit immigration.

But a DHS spokesperson said without the extra foreign workers, some U.S. businesses could suffer "irreparable harm."

In order to hire foreign workers through the visa program, businesses must show there are not enough U.S. workers "able, willing, qualified, and available" for the jobs.

The H-2B visa

The H-2B visa is a temporary work visa for foreign workers to work in the United States at non-agriculture jobs. The U.S. limits these visas to 66,000 per year. That limit has already been reached for 2017.

According to the State Department, there were 85,000 H-2B visas issued in 2015. This was due to some returning workers being able to receive exemptions from the limit.

Congress, however, did not renew the returnees’ exemptions when they expired last fall.

Some U.S. industries, like the tourism industry, depend heavily on seasonal workers. They say they have struggled to hire enough people since the H-2B visa exemptions expired.

Tyler Hayes, vice president of Cape Cod Restaurants, says his seasonal businesses — including Flying Bride Restaurant, shown here in April — would suffer without H-2B workers.
Tyler Hayes, vice president of Cape Cod Restaurants, says his seasonal businesses — including Flying Bride Restaurant, shown here in April — would suffer without H-2B workers.

To address this problem, Congress recently permitted the Department of Homeland Security to go over the 66,000-visa limit.

The new rules will be published in the General Register later this week. Businesses will then be able to petition for additional visas.

President Donald Trump’s business has used the H-2B visa program to staff his private club Mar-a-Lago in Florida. Trump has also used the club to host visiting heads of state several times.

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Victoria Macchi reported this story for VOANews.com. Phil Dierking adapted her report for Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.

Do businesses depend on foreign workers in your country? We want to hear from you. Write to us in the Comments Section or on our Facebook page.

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Words in This Story

exemption - n. freedom from being required to do something that others are required to do​

fiscal - adj. of or relating to money and especially to the money a government, business, or organization earns, spends, and owes​

irreparable - adj. too bad to be corrected or repaired​

petition - n. a written document that people sign to show that they want a person or organization to do or change something​

qualify - v. to give (someone) the necessary skill or knowledge to do a particular job or activity​

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