Congressman Chris Pappas, D-New Hampshire; Congressman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho; Congressman David Valadao, R-California; and 49 other representatives sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services asking them to reconsider their proposed fee increases for the H-2B visa program.
DHS recently published a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking outlining increased fees for H-2B non-immigrant visa programs and instituting a $600 asylum program fee on every petition. The proposal would also increase premium processing time from 15 calendar days to 15 business days.
“The proposed fee increases for the program are untenable and we are glad this bipartisan group of Representatives agree,” says Nathan Bowen, Irrigation Association advocacy and public affairs vice president. “A strong H-2B program is vital for the industry, but depends upon employers being able to access the program at a reasonable cost and with a predictable number of available visas and timelines. We look forward to continuing to engage with the administration and Congress to make ensure a workable H-2B program.”
In the letter sent to DHS, lawmakers emphasized the importance of the program for business.
“Employers who rely on the H-2B and H-2A non-immigrant visa programs do so because they cannot hire U.S. workers to fill the needed positions,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter. “They turn to these programs to ensure they have the workforce needed to operate their business and contribute to our communities. These programs are a last resort to going out of business or curtailing expansion.”
The H-2B visa program allows for the temporary admission of foreign workers to the United States to perform nonagricultural labor or services of a temporary nature if unemployed U.S. workers are not available and is used by many companies in the irrigation industry.
Read more about the H-2B program.