The Department of Homeland Security, in a late Friday afternoon press release, has announced it is expanding the ceiling for H-2B non-ag foreign workers by nearly 65,000.
This despite the fact, as we noted recently, that there has been a near-collapse in demand for this visa as the multi-million alien surge has more than filled the demand for such workers. So far this fiscal year new H-2B applications are running at 50 percent of last year’s rate.
The routine ceiling for these non-ag, non-skilled workers is 66,000 a year, so the new decision will double the number available, despite the large numbers flowing over the border this year who have newly issued work permits. H-2B workers can be found in the landscaping and forest industries, and in restaurants and hotels, among other industries.
The increased number includes a set-aside of 20,000 for aliens from nearby nations, such as those in Haiti, Colombia, and the Northern Triangle of Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras); this despite the fact that similar expansions to Haiti, for example, have produced almost no applicants from that country. The other near 45,000 are to be dusted-off recent H-2B workers who have served in the program in the last three years. This will allow employers to re-hire workers that they have used in the past.
The announcement – in the dubious Washington tradition of an end-of-the-week news dump – came out at 4:08 p.m. Friday afternoon.