Biden to Increase Seasonal-Worker Visas by 22,000

Additional visas will become available ahead of the summer season.

The Biden administration plans to make an additional 22,000 seasonal guest-worker visas available this year ahead of the summer season, according to people familiar with the decision.

This is on top of the current 66,000 visas now available annually to seasonal employers, including landscapers, fisheries, resorts and county fairs, which look to add staff for their busy seasons.

The decision comes just weeks after the Biden administration lifted a ban on the guest-worker visas and other work visas imposed by the Trump administration last June amid the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. A small number of the total additional visas will be set aside for applicants from the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, which together are sending the largest number of migrant families and children to the U.S. border seeking asylum, the people said.

It couldn’t be determined when the administration plans to announce the additional visas, or when they might become available to businesses.

Representatives for the White House and the Department of Homeland Security didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.

The seasonal-worker program, known as the H-2B visa program, enables U.S. employers to hire as many as 66,000 temporary foreign workers a year, with the allotments split evenly between the winter and summer seasons. Congress permits the Department of Homeland Security each year to raise that cap by up to 64,000 additional visas.

Agricultural guest workers fall under the separate H-2A visa program, which has no limit set by Congress.

The Biden administration had come under pressure from businesses and lawmakers—both Republicans and Democrats—to make more visas available to stimulate the economy as the country recovers from a year of pandemic restrictions on work and travel.

By Michelle Hackman for THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
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