Then again, it usually doesn’t. Last week, U.S. Customs and Immigration Service announced that it reached the maximum number of applications allowed for H-2B guest worker visas during the second half of fiscal 2009, which starts April 1. Out of the 50,000 applications received, USCIS will randomly select 33,000 visa recipients. The number was reached Jan. 2, 2009, but the announcement was made Jan. 7. The H-2B program is intended for industries, including landscapers, that have a need for seasonal workers that cannot be met with American workers.
Corey Connors, director of legislative relations for the American Nursery and Landscape Association, would like to see an annual cap that allows more than just 66,000 H-2B guest workers per year. The program formerly allowed as many as 120,000 per year. “ANLA and other green industry organizations continue to advocate for an returning guest worker exemption for the H-2B program,” he stated in an e-mail to ANLA members. “But given the current political climate, a clean extension without significant concessions to labor is extremely unlikely.”