Pingree Welcomes Additional H-2B Visas But Faults Trump Admin for Adding Measures that May Disadvantage Maine Businesses
Washington, March 5, 2020
Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-01) welcomed the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)’s announcement that 35,000 additional H-2B visas will be released but expressed frustration that the number is still is not enough to meet the needs of Maine’s seasonal businesses and that it contains new measures that could limit Maine employers’ access to needed workers. Pingree said as a member of the House Appropriations Committee she will keep fighting to increase the available H-2B guest worker visas.
“Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have given the Trump administration authority to issue up to nearly 130,000 H-2B visas, but for the fourth year in a row the Administration has come up short. Maine’s peak tourism season is around the corner and I know the urgency that seasonal businesses across Maine feel to address their workforce shortages,” said Pingree. “It’s unhelpful that DHS refuses to issue the remaining 29,000 visas, is delaying issuance of 15,000 visas until May 15—after the Maine tourist season begins—and sets aside visas for workers from countries that Maine businesses traditionally do not recruit from.”
H-2B visas are nonimmigrant visas that allow employers to temporarily hire foreign employees for one-time occurrences, seasonal needs, peak-load needs, or intermittent needs. Maine businesses’ access to the additional visas will depend on DHS issuing a Rule, for which no date has been set.
The FY2020 consolidated appropriations bill included a provision authored by Congresswoman Pingree, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, to give DHS authority to issue up to nearly 130,000 H-2B visas this fiscal year.
In January, Congresswoman Pingree (D-Maine) wrote a bicameral, bipartisan letter with Senators Susan Collins and Angus King to Acting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Chad Wolf urging the Administration to immediately increase the statutory cap of H-2B visas for fiscal year 2020.