Fewer visas for temporary foreign workers has resulted in sending small hotels, restaurants and other resort businesses scurrying to find workers before the summer season, reports The Wall Street Journal.
From WSJ (my highlight):
Recent steps by Congress to temporarily lift the number of workers coming to the U.S. under temporary, or H-2B, visas could ease the pressure, but additional workers aren’t likely to arrive before late June, at best. This has sent some small-business owners looking for key staff, others are pushing back opening day and boosting overtime...-RW
The H-2B program provides roughly 66,000 visas to temporary nonagricultural workers every 12 months, with 33,000 slots reserved for each six-month period starting April 1 and Oct. 1. When, or if, the caps are reached, has varied from year to year. The visas are good for the requested work period, but can be extended for up to three years for workers already in the U.S., provided employers submit required paperwork.
Applications surged this year because of the tight job market and because an exemption for returning workers expired on Sept. 30, after Congress declined to extend it amid concerns from labor unions and those opposed to foreign workers. That meant firms needed to request new visas for workers that had come to the U.S. under the program last year but were no longer in the country....
Firms of all sizes have struggled to find needed workers, but the challenges are greatest for small businesses, which typically don’t have human-resources staffs or locations in other states they can draw from...
Joy McNulty, owner of The Lobster Pot Restaurant, estimates she lost about $350,000 in revenue because delays in getting H-2B employees on site forced her to postpone the opening of her Provincetown, Mass., eatery by five weeks.
“For 45 years now, I have opened my restaurant when I wanted to,” she said, “except for the last two when the government told me when I could.”