Below is an update issued by James Judkins of JKJ Workforce on the current status of the H2B Seasonal Worker Visa Program. It is essential that all carnivals, fairs, festivals, events, and suppliers who rely on businesses who use H2B seasonal workers read this news release and take action immediately!
FACT #1: The cap hit for the first half of the fiscal year on December 15, 2017. That is almost a month earlier than in fiscal year 2017.
The administration has not announced what their "target figure" was but my calculations that it was reduced from 2017 to approximately 36,300 which is the lowest it has been in years.
At least 8 of my carnival employers were capped out - meaning they will not be able to get their workers when they need them - unless there is some sort of cap relief. There is no rhyme or reason why they were capped out and you are getting your workers (if you are) but next time it could be you.
FACT #2: This is going to be difficult to believe but on January 1, 2018 there were over 4500 applications for 81,600 worker positions filed with the US DOL.
This means that even if your petition was filed on the very first day, the very first minute that it could be filed, you only have a 44.4% chance of getting through the process and getting any H-2B workers this year. If your start date is April 2, 2018 or after, you have a zero % chance of getting across the finish line unless there is cap relief.
It keeps me awake at night knowing that unless Congress takes action, 8 of my employers from the first half of the year will not obtain H-2B workers and 410 returning H-2B workers will not have jobs to return to in the USA to care for their families.
My stomach churns knowing that for second half of the fiscal year, starting April 1, 2018 unless something incredible happens, approximately 44 Carnivals/Food Concessions/Ride Operators will not get any H-2B workers and approximately 1190 returning H-2B workers, who have followed the rules, followed the law, been compliant 100%, will not have jobs in 2018 and may feel that their only option is to pay a coyote to enter the USA illegally to care for their families.
Employers who have followed the law, dotted their i's and crossed their t's, paid proper prevailing wages, covered their workers with insurance, paid all of the workers expenses, being forced out of business.
Workers who did not give into the temptation of crossing illegally, who followed the rules, paid their taxes, left their spouses and children at home for 9 long months while they worked in the USA, now not having any good choices.
What Can You Do?
IF YOU HAVE TAKEN ACTION BEFORE BASED UPON MY EMAILS THANK YOU SO MUCH. IF YOU HAVE NOT TAKEN ACTION IN THE PAST, I AM ASKING YOU PLEASE TO TAKE ACTION. THIS IS NOT GOING TO TAKE A GREAT DEAL OF YOUR TIME, IT IS NOT GOING TO TAKE ANY OF YOUR MONEY, IT IS ONLY GOING TO TAKE YOU MAKING AN EFFORT TO ASSIST YOURSELF AND YOUR FELLOW H-2B EMPLOYERS AT THIS CRITICAL CRITICAL JUNCTURE IN TIME.
Why is it a critical juncture? Why is TODAY and THIS WEEK Critical?
Cap Relief CAN pass in the next 20 days. Yes, it can.
There are legislative vehicles that must pass in the next 20 days and CAP RELIEF MUST BE PASSED IN THE NEXT 20 DAYS.
WHAT YOU MUST DO IS VERY SIMPLE:
Congress is on Christmas Break. They do NOT return to Washington until January 8th. You need to contact your Representative at least once per day from now until January 20th. You need to contact your 2 Senators at least once per day from now until January 20th.
Click here to find out who your Senators are (if you do not know). If you already have contacts with their offices follow the instructions below. Click here to find out who your Representative is (if you do not know). If you already have contacts with their offices follow the instructions below:
You need to follow these instructions. Your suppliers need to follow these instructions. Your managers need to follow these instructions. Your fairs and festivals need to follow these instructions. If you remember the movie GODFATHER we are going to the mats --- this is not the time to be shy, to be too busy, to think that everyone else is going to do it, so you don't have to. You have to.
We are working on 3 different routes to cap relief.
As a result of the April 2017 CR and because Congress recently extended this CR until late January, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Nielsen has the authority to release up to 70,000 additional visas immediately but it is going to take your active involvement.
DHS is the only entity that can fix this problem but they appear unwilling to do so on their own. Congress must put pressure on DHS to release additional visas. Congress needs to hear, loudly and repeatedly, from H-2B program participants in their districts. Most importantly, they need to hear from those of you who were caught by the cap. As a H-2B program participant, YOU are in the best position to convince your elected officials (one Member of Congress and both Senators) of the devastating impact of not being able to re-hire your legal seasonal workers. If they don't hear loud and clear from constituents who rely on the H2B program they will assume that there is no problem.
All H-2B program participants and especially the capped participants need to reach out to their two Senators and Member of Congress to ask them to request that DHS immediately release additional visas.
If you need the contact information for the appropriate staffers to contact in your representatives' offices please reach out to me. I would also encourage you to schedule an in-person meeting with the local District Director of your representative. Developing a rapport with the District Director is extremely important and will likely pay dividends down the road.
I have written a template letter (attached) you can use to send to your representative. Please be sure to personalize the letter in order to prevent numerous Members of Congress from receiving the same letter. Template Letter A is to be used if you have been capped out and Template Letter B if you have not been capped out.
Please forward me all correspondence you have with your representatives (firstname.lastname@example.org). It is essential I log this information into the database.
So the first track is having your member of congress and Senators contact DHS to tell them they ALREADY HAVE AUTHORITY to increase the CAP.
The second track is telling your member of congress and Senators that they also need to insure that Cap Relief happens by including it in the next Continuing Resolution or Appropriations Package that MUST PASS BY JANUARY 19, 2018.
The third track -- if you do business in Texas or Florida - or are based in Texas or Florida - or you have contacts in Texas of Florida and you will really really really take action, email or phone me to tell me you WILL TAKE ACTION and I have special instructions for you.