Friday, August 3, 2007

H-2B My Visa

An excerpt of something I wrote in December 2006, but never blogged:

HR 4740, the Save Our Small and Seasonal Business Act, allows people in the United States via an H-2B visa to continue their hard work here for an additional year.

HR 4770 is necessary because the H-2B program permits only 66,000 visas per year—a cap that has not been expanded since it was enacted in 1990. Indeed, in 2005, this quota was reached by March.

Such myopia puts many small businesses in a catch-22. On one hand, they can curtail their output, which reduces profits and slows the economy. On the other hand, they can turn to illegal immigrants, which rewards illegal behavior and undermines respect for the rule of law. Both options are bad, which is why HR 4740 is important.

The bill exempts H-2B workers who have been gainfully employed during the past three years and abided by all the rules of their visa, from counting toward the cap.

The bill also contains various safeguards to protect American workers. For instance, employers must first recruit U.S. citizens (by advertising through the state and federal labor departments). Only if openings remain may they then hire H-2B workers. Furthermore, the one-year assignment must be a one-time occurrence, at the end of which visa holders must return to their country of origin.