The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced last week that more than 25,000 additional H-2B guest worker visas are now available for the 2009 filing period. Petitions will be accepted immediately. The agency had announced way back in January that all 66,000 visas allocated for fiscal 2009 were already spoken for, nine months before the end of the fiscal year. This has been a common theme in recent years, as the demand for H-2B visas has far exceeded supply. However, during 2009, things changed, and the actual number of applications completed and visas issued was just 40,640 – far fewer than officials expected. As a result, Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-Md.) asked the agency to start accepting applications again so the remaining 25,360 visas could be issued, and officials agreed. The Maryland legislators were interested in helping that state’s crab industry, which depends on seasonal labor, but in fact the permits can be used by many other industries using seasonal labor as well, such as landscapers. For information on the process, see this questions and answers page on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Web site. Mikulski and Kratovil also issued press releases on the matter.
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About Curt Kipp
Curt Kipp is the director of publications and communications at the Oregon Association of Nurseries, and the editor of Digger magazine.