Shaheen & Bipartisan Group of Senators Call on Trump Administration to Provide Additional Temporary Visas to Support Small Businesses
**A lack of H-2B visas has caused a shortage of workers in New Hampshire during peak tourist season**
Washington, D.C.— U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter on Friday with Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Angus King (I-ME) and a bipartisan group of 11 Senators to Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, urging her to increase the number of H-2B visas to provide relief to small businesses struggling to fill seasonal job openings in the current tight labor market.
The letter calls on Secretary Nielsen to increase the existing 66,000 H-2B visa cap to 135,320, the number available in fiscal year 2007, which is permitted by a provision in the recently-passed fiscal year 2019 DHS Appropriations Bill. Secretary Nielsen used similar authority in fiscal years 2017 and 2018 to provide an additional 15,000 H-2B visas.
If the H-2B visa cap is not lifted and employers are unable to find seasonal help, some may have to curtail operations, putting the jobs of American workers who fill year-round positions at risk.
“New Hampshire’s seasonal economy relies heavily on temporary workers, and if these visas aren’t made available, our small businesses won’t have the workforce they need to serve our communities during our peak season,” said Shaheen. “It’s imperative that the administration heed this bipartisan call. New Hampshire small businesses – and our local and regional economies – shouldn’t suffer because of the administration’s flawed policy.”
H-2B workers support American jobs and small businesses. Bipartisan research has found a direct correlation between increased numbers of H-2B workers and a rise in pay across the board for all employees. As required by law, employers must first make a concerted effort to hire American workers to fill open positions. H-2B visas fill needs for American small businesses when there are not enough able and willing American workers to fill the temporary, seasonal positions.
The letter was also signed by Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO), Chris Coons (D-DE), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Tom Carper (D-DE), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Doug Jones (D-AL), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN).
Click here to read the letter.
Last year, Senator Shaheen visited Hart’s Turkey Farm in Meredith to discuss the importance of temporary visas and the role they play in New Hampshire’s tourism sector.