Trump Administration to Allow 15,000 More Workers into Country

ImmigrationContrary to campaign promises that American workers would be given priority for American jobs, the Trump administration has indicated that it will make 15,000 more H-2B visas available for the rest of the fiscal year. Sources say the visas will be primarily for low-wage, seasonal workers, including employees in the hotel, restaurant and resort business. It has been reported that the Trump Organization, which employs low-paid foreign workers in its Mar-a-Lago resort, among other places, has used the H-2B visas frequently in the past.

Under normal circumstances, the United States issues approximately 65,000 visas per year, with visas granted every six months.

Just four months ago, the president demanded that immigration officials reform the H-1B visa program, saying that it was being used by multinational corporations to boost profits by importing cheap foreign labor, instead of paying the wages to American workers. Many in business challenged that assertion, saying that it was more often used to bring in highly educated foreign workers for technology positions that Americans could not fill.

Though a few advocates of restrictive immigration policies saw the announcement as reneging on a campaign promise, officials at the Department of Homeland Security say the decision to increase the number of H-2B visas is absolutely essential, as some American businesses may go out of business if they can’t find qualified foreign workers. That message was echoed by Senator Thom Tillis, R-NC, who noted that “the H2-B program is vital for businesses that desperately need some temporary help to keep their doors open and keep their American workforce employed.”

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J Visa – An Alternative to Filing for the H-1B Visa

By Michael J. Spychalski

With not being able to file for H-1B visas until April, there are a few alternatives to the H-1B that can be pursued. One alternative is a J visa. A J visa is an exchange program established by the U.S. Government to facilitate the visitors from other countries to come to the U.S. to participate in Educational and Cultural programs. The objective is to increase mutual understanding between the citizens of the U.S. and the Exchange Visitors’ countries. J visa holders participate in studies, research, teaching, or receive training. Universities, research institutes, and organizations can be recognized by the U.S. Department of State as Exchange Visitor Program Sponsors.

Exchange Visitors (J visa holders) can have dependents (spouse and unmarried children of 21 years of age or younger) accompany him or her. Employment authorization is allowed for dependents. There are a number of program categories to choose from. They are Au pair, Camp Counselor, College and University Student, Government Visitor, Intern, International Visitor, Physician, Professor and Research Scholar, Secondary School Student, Short-Term Scholar, Specialist, Summer Work Travel, Teacher, and Trainee. Each program allows for different maximum periods of stay. For example a specialist is allowed to stay for a maximum duration of 12 months, while a researcher can stay for a maximum duration 60 months. You cannot extend your stay beyond the maximum duration.

Exchange visitors can have a condition attached called a two-year home country residence requirement. If the following applies to you, you will be required to return to your home country for two years:

  • a. The Exchange Visitor received funds from the U.S. government, his/her own government, or an international organization funded by government;
  • b. The education, training, or skills that the Exchange Visitor is pursuing in the U.S. appear on the Exchange Visitor Skills List for his/her country published by the Department of State.
  • c. Foreign medical graduates receiving training in the U.S. under the sponsorship of the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates (ECFMG).

If you have the two-year residence requirement, you are not eligible to change your visa status to any other work visa or immigrant visa. However, there are waivers available.

For this or any other immigration issue you may have, feel free to contact Bailey and Galyen.