Shaheen, Senators Urge Biden to Immediately Rescind Trump Administration Ban on Seasonal, Employer-Sponsored Visas

March 17, 2021

(Washington, D.C.) –– Today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Angus King (I-ME), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) urged President Joe Biden to rescind former-President Donald Trump’s ban on seasonal, employer-sponsored and cultural exchange visas under Proclamation 10052 and to ensure timely processing of these nonimmigrant visas.

In June 2020, Trump instituted Proclamation 10052, halting the processing of non-immigrant H-1B, L-1, H-2B and J-1 visas, based on alleged potential risk to the labor market. Yet because the visas that Proclamation 10052 halted either target low-unemployment professions or require that the visa holder does not displace an American worker, businesses that rely on foreign workers have struggled to fill jobs despite increased unemployment. Reports have suggested that jobs in fields such as information technology -- which H-1B visa holders would have filled -- have remained open or were moved overseas.

The Senators wrote, in part, “…the ban on seasonal, employer-sponsored and cultural exchange visas continues to harm U.S. businesses that rely on these workers to operate. Although Proclamation 10052 is set to expire on March 31, 2021, businesses have indicated that inaction will further harm their businesses and economic recovery.”

Hospitality, tourism and other seasonal businesses are crucial to New Hampshire’s economy, supporting thousands of jobs and producing millions of dollars in revenue each year for local communities and the state. However, small businesses within these industries have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic, and they need access to employment-based visa programs in order to meet their temporary workforce needs during their busy season.

The Senators continued, “Several of these categories (H-2B and J-1 Summer Work Travel and Camp Counselor) by regulation are seasonal and heavily used during the summer months, when seasonal communities across the country welcome an influx of visitors. Failing to revoke the Proclamation immediately places these programs at risk because both workers and employers cannot adequately prepare for the surge season.”

The text of the letter is available here.

Senator Shaheen has been a steadfast advocate in support of New Hampshire’s tourism and hospitality sector, which rely on these visa programs. Earlier this week, Shaheen hosted a virtual discussion with key stakeholders highlighting additional relief for New Hampshire’s hospitality and tourism industries included in the American Rescue Plan. The American Rescue Plan contains various provisions to help small businesses operate, including an additional $7.25 billion for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which has served as a lifeline for thousands of small businesses throughout the state, as well as nearly $29 billion to create a grant program that will provide direct relief to restaurants. Shaheen is an author of the PPP, which became law as part of the CARES Act last year. Last week, she helped introduce bipartisan legislation that would give small businesses an additional two months to access the PPP. To date, more than 34,000 New Hampshire small businesses and non-profits have received over $3.4 billion in PPP assistance. 

Senator Shaheen has strongly supported increasing flexibility of the Paycheck Protection Program for seasonal employers. Last month, Shaheen and Senator Collins (R-ME) sent a letter to the Department of Treasury and the Small Business Administration (SBA), urging them to provide additional flexibility for seasonal small businesses applying for forgivable PPP loans.