An additional 22,000 seasonal guest-worker visas will be made available to foreign employees this summer, the Department of Homeland Security announced Tuesday.
The visas are in addition to the 66,000 H-2B visas available to seasonal employees including landscapers, fisheries, resorts and county fairs, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Six thousand visas will be reserved for applicants from Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, from which many migrants are swarming the U.S. border seeking asylum, in order to “expand lawful pathways for opportunity,” DHS said.
The H-2B visa program allows employers to hire 66,000 temporary foreign workers a year between the winter and summer seasons.
Employers are required to pay workers in the program the same as their American counterparts.
An additional 64,000 visas can be issued by the Department of Homeland Security as the agency sees fit.
The Trump administration suspended new work visas and H-1B visas last summer in an attempt to keep foreigners out of the country in response to the coronavirus pandemic, The New York Times reported.
The temporary ban was said to keep “as many as 525,000 foreign workers out of the country for the rest of the year,” according to The Times.
The intent of the ban was to protect American jobs, but a review by The Wall Street Journal found that the roles either moved abroad or were unfilled.
The Biden administration did not renew the ban after it expired at the beginning of April, according to The Wall Street Journal.
The H-2B Workforce Coalition, a business lobby, wrote a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas earlier this month requesting that additional visas be made available.
“H-2B workers allow U.S. businesses to operate at a greater capacity, retain their full-time workers and contribute to their local economies,” the group said.
“This program serves as a critical safety valve for companies to address seasonal labor needs when there are not a sufficient number of available American workers to meet the demand for these short-term jobs.”
The hospitality union UNITE HERE asked the Biden administration not to increase the number of H-2B visas and instead to reform the visa program.