A message from AmericanHort:
May 18 is a Day of Grassroots Action. Many AmericanHort and state affiliate members, and other seasonal employers, are in Washington to urge their elected leaders to renew the H-2B “returning worker exemption” and regulatory relief.
The H-2B program is a critical source of legal, temporary or seasonal labor for landscaping and other seasonal industries. The program’s congressionally mandated cap of only 66,000 visas (33,000 for the first half of the fiscal year and 33,000 for the second half of the year) is inadequate to meet the seasonal needs of small businesses. The cap was hit in 2015 for the first time in several years, leaving many seasonal employers in the lurch. Fortunately, Congress acted in December to exempt returning workers from the cap during 2016, renewing a policy that was also in place from 2005 to 2007.
At the same time, Congress also provided relief from some of the most onerous provisions of recent regulatory changes, including limits on the use of private wage surveys, a shortened season length for many employers, unreasonable contract obligations, and a duplicative enforcement scheme that involved multiple government agencies. In order to ensure that seasonal small businesses continue to have access to needed H-2B workers in fiscal 2017, Congress must renew the H-2B returning worker exemption. This provision of law exempts from the cap H-2B workers who complied with all past visa requirements and worked in the program during one of the preceding three fiscal years. Sectors of the horticulture industry, including landscape installation and maintenance firms, growers, and garden retailers, benefit from the industry having enough seasonal labor to supplement the talent and contributions of the industry’s year-round American workforce.
Regardless of whether you use H-2B or not, act now to support the effort to keep the program available and viable for our industry.