US business will be able to hire an additional 15,000 foreign workers under the H-2B visa program through the end of September, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday.
The number of H-2B visas had been capped for this year at 66,000.
"In a statement, DHS said Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly had consulted with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta and determined there were not enough "qualified and willing US workers" to fill the needs of businesses". Pressed by a reporter about how the policy announcement to allow more foreign workers into the USA supports American jobs, a DHS spokesperson said that without those extra workers, US businesses could suffer "irreparable harm".
A group of USA companies and groups that use the visas, called the "the H-2B Workforce Coalition", in a statement praised the "minimal relief granted..."
He described the additional visas as a "one-time extension" of the visa cap set by Congress.
However, on March 13, 2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has received enough petitions to meet the annual cap of 66,000.
President Donald Trump decried the use of foreign workers during his campaign, although he defended his company's use of H-2B visas at his golf resorts during a 2015 primary debate by saying, "I've hired in Florida during the prime season - you could not get help", according to The Washington Post's transcript.
Holiday vacation destinations around the US, including President Donald Trump's own Mar-a-Lago country club in Florida, depend on tens of thousands of temporary workers in the summer and winter, many of them young people from eastern Europe and Asia. Businesses that rely heavily on seasonal workers, like the tourism industry, said they have struggled to fill vacancies since then.
"This does help with American businesses continuing to prosper", a senior DHS official told NBC News.
But not everyone agrees, including Roy Beck, president of NumbersUSA, which lobbies to keep immigration levels low in the United States.
Because businesses applying for the program must state that they will be irreparably harmed without a workforce boost, the additional visas are consistent with an "America First" policy, the official said.
Trump has previously opposed allowing guest workers in the United States, though his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Fla., has used H-2B seasonal employees.