The H-2B program is critically important for many businesses that have difficulty finding U.S. workers to fill temporary jobs. This is particularly true in seasonal industries. Comments from H-2B employers attest to the need for foreign workers in physically demanding seasonal jobs, often in remote locations, that many U.S. workers will not take.
The H-2B nonimmigrant visa program permits employers to hire foreign workers to come to the U.S. and perform temporary nonagricultural work, which may be one-time, seasonal, peak load or intermittent and there are no qualified and willing U.S. workers available for the job. Note that this visa is not available for “temporary” agencies or other work placement agencies.
In order to learn more about employers’ perceptions of the H-2B program, ImmigrationWorks USA and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce conducted a survey: five short questions distributed among H-2B employers in July and August 2010. The survey asked how many H-2B workers the company had hired in the last three years and what types of jobs those workers held. It included two open-ended questions about the benefits of using the program and asked what if any problems employers had experienced.
Another open-ended question asked what employers would do if they were not able to hire H-2B workers. Participation was voluntary, and results could be submitted via email, fax or the internet. A total of 367 employers responded. The majority of H-2B employers who responded to the survey noted that temporary foreign workers are reliable and hard-working. Many also praised these workers’ productivity: a benefit that offsets the cost of bringing them into the United States. Respondents appreciated that H-2B workers were willing to work seasonal jobs and then return home when the season ended.
Important benefit of the program is that it offers companies a way to hire foreign workers when U.S. labor markets tighten. The program increases labor market flexibility by allowing businesses to bring in foreign workers when U.S. workers move up to better, higher-paying jobs during economic expansions.
To read the entire report about the economic impact of the H2B program, click here