With Funding Deadline Approaching, Shaheen & Bipartisan Group of Senators Call on Senate Leadership to Support Seasonal Businesses

November 19, 2019

Bipartisan group of 30 senators urge leadership and appropriators to raise the 66,000 visa limit 

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen sent a letter today with a bipartisan group of 30 Senators, led by Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Mike Rounds (R-SD), requesting that Senate Majority Leader, Minority Leader, and the Chairman and Vice Chairman of the Appropriations Committee provide H-2B visa cap relief for seasonal employers in any funding agreement. In the letter, the Senators stress that there are not enough U.S. workers qualified and available to meet the seasonal demand for employment – and that these seasonal positions support the jobs of thousands of American citizens. 

“The shortage of U.S. workers during the last several years has demonstrated that without needed guest workers, seasonal businesses are simply unable to meet their staffing needs. They have been forced to limit hours of operation, turn away customers, scale back service, and cancel capital equipment purchases,” wrote the Senators. “In some cases, businesses were forced to lay off Americans whose jobs are supported by H-2B workers—or shut down their operations entirely. Seasonal businesses need meaningful and lasting cap relief so they can continue to contribute to the economy and create full-time, year-round work for Americans. According to the American Enterprise Institute, every H-2B worker is estimated to create and sustain 4.64 American jobs.” 

They continued, “In a strong economy with record-low unemployment, the H-2B program’s congressionally mandated cap of 66,000 visas is inadequate to meet the labor needs of seasonal businesses. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) continues to report that the number of job openings actually exceeds the labor pool. Meaningful cap relief is needed to allow our seasonal businesses to supplement their workforce in the growing number of instances when Americans are not available to fill temporary positions.” 

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. In March, Shaheen sent a bipartisan letter urging then-DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen to increase the number of H-2B visas for temporary foreign workers in 2019, a request that the administration later fulfilled.  

The letter is also signed by U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Rob Portman (R-OH), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), John Cornyn (R-TX), Krysten Sinema (D-AZ), Jim Risch (R-ID), Chris Coons (D-DE), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Rand Paul (R-KY), Doug Jones (D-AL), James Lankford (R-OK), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Todd Young (R-IN), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Susan Collins (R-ME), Pat Toomey (R-PA), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Tim Scott (R-SC), John Barrasso (R-WY), John Thune (R-SD), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Kevin Cramer (R-ND), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Mike Braun (R-IN). 

The full letter can be read here.