A Seasonal Storm

An exemption for H-2B workers hits bad weather

Seasonal companies that rely on foreign workers during their peak season may have trouble filling those posts. Since 1991, Congress has limited to 66,000 the number of H-2B visas—those granted to temporary workers in jobs other than agriculture.

In 2005, as businesses started to bump up against that cap, Congress passed legislation that exempted from the quota any worker returning to the U.S. who had used an H-2B in one of the last three years. But that exemption, which was extended through 2007, has now expired.

There have been efforts to revive the exemption, but as of March they had stalled. In particular, the Congressional Hispanic Caucus has blocked action to lift the ban, pushing for comprehensive immigration reform instead. With no deal in sight, that's bad news for seasonal business owners gearing up for summer.

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