Today, Congressman Bill Keating led a bipartisan letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly requesting that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conduct an audit of the number of unused H-2B visas from the first half of the 2017 fiscal year. Rep. Keating was joined by Representative Andy Harris of Maryland and 36 of their colleagues in requesting the audit in addition to information regarding how USCIS will 1) ensure that the full number of available visas are utilized each year and 2) take steps to ensure timely processing of applications.
“Today I am joined once again by a bipartisan group of Members of Congress advocating for effective implementation of the H-2B program,” said Rep. Keating. “The cap on H-2B visas was met yesterday, which makes our call for DHS to conduct an audit for any unused visas all the more critical. Our communities thrive when our small and seasonal businesses have the employees they need to thrive. Making sure that all visas are available to businesses is step one in helping them be as ready as possible for the upcoming tourist season.”
Attached is a copy of the final letter. The text can be found below.
March 17, 2017
The Honorable John Kelly
U.S. Department of Homeland Security
Washington, DC 20528
Dear Secretary Kelly:
We write on behalf of the many small and seasonal businesses in our districts that rely on the H-2B program each year. As you are already aware, many of our local employers depend on the non-immigrant workers who enter the U.S. on short-term visas under the H-2B program to supplement their American workforce to accommodate the massive flows of visitors during the busy summer months. Without this program, local businesses and both the regional and national economy suffer because there simply are not enough American workers available during these peak and shoulder-season months.
With the H-2B visa cap in place as it applies to returning workers, it is critical to our constituents and communities that the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accurately accounts for all visas issued as well as visa applications withdrawn, denied, and revoked. If there are unused visas, it is imperative that they are made available to employers as soon as possible, given the time-sensitive nature of when employers must be able to fully staff their businesses in order to remain competitive and viable.
A number of our Senate colleagues recently wrote a letter to you requesting that USCIS conduct an audit of the number of unused visas from the first half of the fiscal year. As Members of the House representing the many small and seasonal employers who have serious concerns about whether they will be able to fully staff their businesses this summer, we join in requesting an immediate audit of the number of unused visas. We also respectfully request information regarding how USCIS intends to ensure that the full 33,000 visas are made available for each half of the fiscal year and how USCIS will ensure timely processing of visas after the cap is deemed to have been reached in the event that additional visas are made available.
We thank you for your attention to this issue and for your work on behalf of the many employers and communities in our districts that rely on this program each year. We look forward to your timely response and hope to continue working together to resolve this recurring issue.
William R. Keating, Member of Congress
Andy Harris, M.D., Member of Congress
Susan W. Brooks, Member of Congress
Steve Chabot, Member of Congress
Barbara Comstock, Member of Congress
Carlos Curbelo, Member of Congress
John J. Faso, Member of Congress
Brian Fitzpatrick, Member of Congress
Virginia Foxx, Member of Congress
Bill Johnson, Member of Congress
Ann McLane Kuster, Member of Congress
Billy Long, Member of Congress
Luke Messer, Member of Congress
Chellie Pingree, Member of Congress
Jared Polis, Member of Congress
C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, Member of Congress
Chris Stewart, Member of Congress
Randy Weber, Member of Congress
Robert Wittman, Member of Congress
Kevin Yoder, Member of Congress
Ted S. Yoho, DVM, Member of Congress
Jack Bergman, Member of Congress
Raúl R. Labrador, Member of Congress
Sheila Jackson-Lee, Member of Congress
Scott Perry, Member of Congress
Tom Rice, Member of Congress
Bruce Westerman, Member of Congress
Rob Woodall, Member of Congress
Thomas J. Rooney, Member of Congress
Bruce Poliquin, Member of Congress
Chris Collins, Member of Congress
Mark Sanford, Member of Congress
David G. Valadao, Member of Congress
Bob Gibbs, Member of Congress
Lynn Jenkins, Member of Congress
Andy Barr, Member of Congress
Mike Coffman, Member of Congress