WASHINGTON (CN) – The Trump administration has approved a rule allowing 15,000 additional temporary foreign workers to receive visas for seasonal work in the United States, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday.
The additional 15,000 visas stack on top of the 33,000 that the Department of Homeland Security has already allotted for the second half of the current fiscal year.
Companies seeking to hire additional temporary foreign workers will need to submit a document under penalty of perjury that shows they would suffer irreparable harm without the additional help.
Senior DHS officials described the increase as a “one-time” occurrence, saying Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly increased the number of temporary foreign workers on the visas, known as H-2B visas, after discussing the option with businesses and the Department of Labor.
The department met its cap for the visa applications in March.
“After consulting with the secretary of labor, Secretary Kelly determined that there are not enough U.S. workers who are willing, qualified and able to perform temporary non-agricultural labor to satisfy the needs of some American businesses and that these businesses will likely suffer irreparable harm if they cannot hire more H-2B workers in fiscal year 2017,” a senior DHS official said on a press call.
Congress allowed the administration to increase the number of H-2B visas in a compromise spending bill passed in May and the new joint rule the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security have put forward will be published in the federal register later this week, according to senior DHS officials.
Businesses will need to submit statements to the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services saying that they will suffer financially if not given additional temporary workers. The businesses are also required to have documents that would prove their need, though they do not have to submit them along with their petition to receive the additional visas.
The increase is only for workers who will start their temporary employment before Sept. 30 and businesses submitting petitions will be considered in the order they apply. In addition to the increase in visas, the department also announced a new tip line for people to report abuse of the program, according to a press release.
Businesses who meet specific criteria can apply for H-2B visas to bring over foreign workers to take temporary positions they cannot fill with American workers. These workers, who perform low-skilled jobs like landscaping or fish processing, can work for 10 months before they have to return to their home countries.
While he was still serving in the Senate, Attorney General Jeff Sessions last year sent a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee asking them not to dramatically increase the number of H-2B visas as the House had done in a temporary spending bill.
Still, senior DHS officials insisted the policy fits Trump’s self-styled “America First” agenda because it will help American businesses.
“We’re talking about American businesses that are at risk of suffering irreparable harm if they don’t get additional H-2B workers,” Homeland Security spokesman David Lapan told reporters. “So we do think that fits into the American-first focus of the administration.”