We have written in the past about the difficulties of bringing foreign workers to the U.S. and the inflexibility of existing visa programs which can make applications tortuous and often have a low success rate. The Temporary Worker Bill could help companies.
The American Immigration Council detailed the legislation that was introduced in May by Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ). Temporary workers would benefit from a new kind of visa under the Willing Workers and Willing Employers Act of 2016, which would set up a 10-year guest worker pilot program.
That’s a longer temporary visa program than anything that’s currently available. The H-1B program for skilled temporary workers is available for three years, but these visas are often extended to six.
Temporary Worker Bill Would Create H-2C Visa
Flake proposes the creation of the H-2C visa program in the temporary worker bill. The idea behind the legislation is a visa that would bridge the gap between the H-1B program and programs such as H-2A for temporary or seasonal agricultural workers and H-2B for seasonal or temporary non-agricultural workers.
The senator’s bill would set up a visa for year-round workers in jobs that require candidates who don’t have bachelors’ degrees. It reflects the caps on the existing visas. Many employers say they are too stringent and are out of step with labor demand.
Flake said his pilot guest worker program entails a flexible cap for registered positions “ranging from 65,000 to 85,000 a year to match economic demand.”
Before employers could seek H-2C visas for overseas workers, they would have to fulfill strict requirements to find available U.S. workers for a given position and they should not have laid off U.S. workers.
Flake’s bill addresses concerns that existing overseas worker programs are detrimental to U.S. and foreign workers in other ways too.
Participating employers in the H-2C visa program would have to be in full-employment areas of the country, specifically, areas where the unemployment rate was 4.9 percent or less.
It would be mandatory for registered employers to participate in the E-Verify employment verification system, a federal mechanism that allows employers check the work authorization of workers.
Although the idea of a 10-year visa is touted in the legislation, H-2C workers would be initially admitted for up to three years. The visa could be renewed, although only within the scope of the bill’s 10-year pilot program. It would not be permissible for workers to bring over family members.
The idea of a flexible cap that would start at 65,000 but ranges from 45,000 to 85,000 in subsequent years could prove attractive given that just 65,000 H1-B visas were made available for the 2017 financial year.
The bill has been praised by influential groups such as the American Health Care Association, and the National Association of Home Builders. It may be a step in the right direction but fails to address many of the major problems with the immigration system that we discuss here.
Obtaining a visa can be a very complicated and harrowing process that leaves your life in limbo. Our experienced Texas visa attorneys will help you every step of the way and remove much of the stress from the process. Call us today for a consultation at (512) 359-3362.