Dec 20, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden to add 20,000 guest-worker visas amid labor shortages

Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Photo: Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

The Biden administration will add 20,000 new slots to a seasonal, guest-worker program for the winter season, the Department of Homeland Security announced Monday.

Why it matters: The U.S. labor force has struggled against the backdrop of rising demand, mental and physical health issues, and low wages, as businesses emerge from the economic damage incurred at the height of the pandemic.

  • The number of job openings was at an all-time high as of October at more than 11 million, and companies are struggling to hire enough workers to meet demand.
  • DHS previously increased the number of available visas during the summer.

Be smart: The H-2B program allows U.S. employers to temporarily hire foreign workers to perform "nonagricultural labor or services." DHS will reserve more than 6,000 for people from Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

What they're saying: "At a time of record job growth, additional H-2B visas will help to fuel our Nation's historic economic recovery," Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in a statement.

  • "DHS is taking action to protect American businesses and create opportunities that will expand lawful pathways to the United States for workers from the Northern Triangle countries and Haiti," he added.
  • "In the coming months, DHS will seek to implement policies that will make the H-2B program even more responsive to the needs of our economy."

Go deeper: Immigrants could help fill America's millions of job openings

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