U.S. adds 15,000 visas for seasonal non-farm workers


WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Trump administration will make available an additional 15,000 H-2B visas, meant for temporary non-agricultural workers, this fiscal year, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said on Friday.

FILE PHOTO – U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen participates in a roundtable on immigration and the gang MS-13 with U.S. President Donald Trump at the Morrelly Homeland Security Center in Bethpage, New York, U.S., May 23, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

The increase would help relieve U.S. businesses that depend on seasonal labor during the busy summer tourist season. Many of them had complained that a visa shortage was pushing them toward economic ruin.

The U.S. government had issued 66,000 such visas this year, through a lottery for the first time, versus the usual first-come, first-served basis. Businesses which usually receive enough visas for temporary workers reported this year that many of their applications had been denied.

“The limitations on H-2B visas were originally meant to protect American workers, but when we enter a situation where the program unintentionally harms American businesses it needs to be reformed,” DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said in a statement.

Last year the Trump administration increased the number of H-2B visas by 15,000 for fiscal 2017.

U.S. law caps the number of H-2B visas at 66,000 per year, divided into the summer and winter seasons, but in this year’s omnibus spending bill, Congress allowed for an increase.

Reporting by Yeganeh Torbati; Editing by James Dalgleish and Richard Chang

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