Pingree Secures an H-2B Cap Relief Amendment in House Appropriations Committee
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME) today advanced an increase in the number of H-2B visas through an amendment to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Appropriations bill. The amendment would give DHS the authority to add up to 63,000 additional visas in FY2020—essentially doubling the number of H-2B visas available next year to seasonal businesses in Maine and other employers around the country.
“Maine is a state that thrives off of seasonal industry, but when there are insufficient temporary work visas available, our local business owners have to make do with fewer staff and witness damaging effects to their operations,” said Pingree. “I’m glad to have secured an amendment to increase the number of H-2B visas which, if enacted, will have a big impact on Maine’s state and local economies; allowing our small businesses to have the support they need during their busy seasons.”
The Pingree amendment extends a provision from previous years giving DHS authority to provide additional visas. However, in the last three years DHS did not issue as many visas as the Department of Labor had certified to be available, which meant that the demonstrated demand for help by seasonal workers in tourism-heavy areas like Maine was not met. Pingree’s amendment makes the increase in the H-2B cap mandatory, not discretionary. DHS has requested Congress set the number of H-2B visas through legislation.
H-2B visas are nonimmigrant visas allow employers to temporarily hire foreign employees for one-time occurrences, seasonal needs, peak-load needs, or intermittent needs.
Pingree has long been a supporter of increased H-2B visa allocation, cosponsoring amendments and authoring bipartisan letters. Most recently, in January 2019, Pingree sent a bipartisan, bicameral letter to the House and Senate leaders, urging them to support an increase in H-2B visas.
The bill now goes to the full House for consideration. The Senate is due to start their appropriation process in the coming weeks.