National Restaurant Association Pushes for Reform as H-2B Visa Cap is Reached Early

H-2B temporary visas provide needed labor source to seasonal businesses

Washington, DC – The National Restaurant Association today reacted to the announcement from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) that the H-2B temporary visa cap of 33,000 has already been reached for the first half of fiscal year 2008. 
“Employers rely on H-2B temporary visas for short-term help in situations where US workers are not available,” said John Gay, senior vice president of Government Affairs and Public Policy for the Association.  “By hitting the cap so quickly; many employers will be prohibited from applying for needed seasonal workers.  It is now more important than ever that Congress pass legislation making the H-2B returning worker exemption permanent; or at the very least providing an extension of the provision.”
The returning worker exemption allows an H-2B visa employee who has worked in the U.S. during any one of the previous three years to return on an H-2B visa without counting against the annual visa cap.  Approximately 50,000 H-2B workers were returning workers last year.  Without an extension of the returning worker exemption, seasonal employers will not be able to hire H-2B visa workers until the beginning of the second half of the fiscal year on April 1, 2008. 
Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and John Warner (R-VA) have introduced S. 988, bipartisan legislation to provide a 5 year extension of the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act.  Representatives Bart Stupak (D-MI), Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO) and Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD) have introduced H.R. 1843 in the House that would make the exemption permanent.