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H-2B Visa Cap Almost Met; Demand for Additional Visas at All Time High
Amusement Industry Urges DHS Secretary Wolf to Release Additional Visas

H-2B Workers
H-2B workers staff a concession stand at the Oklahoma State Fair

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With the start of the season nearing for many carnivals and concessionaires, many are worried about the possibility of yet another season without any laborers to operate rides and concessions at fairs and carnivals throughout the country.  For those who utilize temporary seasonal workers through the H-2B vias program, the future could be even more grim.  As of February 13th, the Department of Labor had certified 37,412 worker positions of the 33,000 allotted via the second half of the H-2B visa cap.  An official announcement is expected to be made this week or early next week announcing that the cap has been officially reached.  The current demand for the second half of the cap exceeds 64,000 worker positions. 

As in previous years, congress has given authority to the Department of Homeland Security to process up to an additional 69,320 H-2B visas (it was later determined by the DHS that they could release up to 64,716 visas).  If DHS Acting Secretary Wolf were to release all of the additional visas, it would satisfy the demand for the 2020 season.  In a December meeting between the H-2B Advocates and Secretary Wolf, Wolf made it clear that he would not release any additional visas until the cap had been officially met.

In previous years, the administration released 30,000 visas (returning workers only) in 2019, and 15,000 visas in 2018 and 2017. 

In order for the workers to arrive in time for the start of the season, it is critical that a decision on the supplemental visa release be reached this week.  Please call your congressional member's district director and D.C. staffer responsible for this issue requesting that he/she make a personal call this week to Acting DHS Secretary Wolf requesting that DHS release the 64,716 H-2B visas it is authorized by congress to release as soon as possible.  Your Representative should emphasize that the decision must be made this week in order for the workers to arrive in time for the employers' busy spring season.

The H-2B Visa Program has garnered congressional support from both sides of the isle.  In December, over 151 House Members and 38 Senators signed a letter circulated by Harris, Pingree, Bergman, Keating, King, and Rounds to Secretary Wolf requesting that the additional visas are released.  In the past, the highest total number of signatures from the house was 107.  The increase shows additional support from Washington which can be attributed to the strong grass roots and lobbying efforts put forth by our industry and other industries who use the H-2B program.
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