The following is an update on the current status of the popular H2B Foreign Guest Worker Program from Jim Judkins of JKJ Workforce:
You may have all of the temporary seasonal workers you need for FY18 or you may be shut out and struggling.
If you have your workers and your date of need is not until early 2019, you may feel that you can focus on your business and the H-2B cap and resolution of the problem is not your problem or something that can wait until next year.
After you read this please do NOT call me and say “but what about my company”. This applies to all companies and I do not have time to repeat the message over and over, we will do everything we can to get all of our clients across the finish line no matter what the situation is, but we cannot make any promises.
Unless Congress takes action the 2019 filing season will be a TRAIN WRECK and we cannot guarantee anything.
Watch the news. Unemployment rate lowest in 42 years. There are more jobs open than workers ready, willing and able to fill them – first time since they have been keeping records. Border Security and ICE raids on businesses have made it much more difficult for those businesses that have not been following the law to look for legal methods to hire the workers they need – and the H-2B program is the only game in town – whether they will comply with the program or not is another question…
Predictions. if Congress does not take action...
Last year first half cap hit on December 15, 2017. This year the cap will hit before September 1, 2018.
Last year first half cap hit on February 27, 2018. This year the second cap will hit by February 1, 2019.
There will be applications for certifications from DOL of at least 250,000 slots for 66,000 visas… meaning that any employers chance of obtaining their workers is will only be about 25%.
Once again, do not call me and ask what I can do for your company. We will do everything we can for all of our clients – every single client is important – but unless Congress takes action to both increase the cap and to protect those employers who have been in the program for the last 3 years, then all bets are off.
CALL TO ACTION
The situation is not going to get better until Congress takes action. Congress will not take action until a critical mass of Senators and Representatives are in support of the H-2B program.
This will only happen if H-2B employers, their suppliers, sponsors, business associates and US employees continue constant contact with their members of Congress, continue to put a face on the H-2B issue. It does not matter if you have all of your workers or have none of your workers for 2018. It is going to get worse and worse and worse unless Congress takes action.
I cannot stress how important it is that you have a relationship with your members of Congress and his/her staff. When I say your members of Congress I mean your single member of the US House of Representative and your two members of the US Senate. A relationship is that you visit their office, you stay in touch with them, you continue to contact them on a monthly basis and they know who you are, what your business is, and that your primary issue is the H-2B temporary seasonal worker program. For your member of congress you become the face of H-2B.
Please continue to stay in touch with your members of Congress letting them know that we need a permanent fix to the H-2B problem that is either cap-free (based upon economic conditions) or with a more reasonable cap that is automatically indexed to economic conditions.
What is the message to your members of Congress?
1) Let them know who you are, that you are a voter, business owner and generator of jobs for US Workers in their district.
2) That you need to supplement your US Workforce (and never say anything bad about any US Worker) with temporary seasonal workers, and these workers are critical to keeping you in business and allowing you to provide the jobs for your US Workers.
3) USCIS has only released 15,000 of the 69,000 visas authorized by Congress and they need to release more; and
4) (Most importantly) Tell your member to reach out to Leadership and that we need true H-2B Cap Relief in the 2019 Appropriations bills and we need a permanent fix to the problem. The attached letters can be furnished to your members of Congress.
I am an agent/founding member/secretary-treasurer of the Seasonal Employment Alliance organization and believe that all H-2B employers should become members and become active in the organization. The annual fee for membership is $10 per H-2B worker and is a wise investment in the future of the H-2B program. For more information on the organization and to become a member go to: https://sealabor.com/
If you do not have time to sign up online, simply send me your business check, made out to Seasonal Employment Alliance for $10/per H-2B worker and I will sign you up.
SEA had language that has been prepared for Congressional Action that raises the cap, includes an escalator clause and protects legitimate, recurrent, employers who have been in the program and compliant with the program for a period of time.
I would strongly suggest that you all become SEA members, receive and read our emails, and become a grassroots force for change.