In less than a week after the Department of Homeland Security placed 15,000 additional visas for temporary workers into circulation, it was inundated with petitions and announced it was cutting off further applications and would select recipients through a computer-generated selection process. Even for club and resort properties that have their petitions selected, however, there is uncertainty over when their workers will arrive and be able to start.
On June 6th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reinstituted its “lottery” for the issuance of the 15,000 newly released H-2B visas, the National Club Association (NCA) reported.The lottery was in place last year and there was hope that it would not return, the NCA reported, but DHS had no choice after receiving overwhelming demand for the latest allotment of temporary-worker visas.
As soon as the additional visas were placed into circulation on May 31, the NCA explained, the DHS was inundated with petitions, receiving more than 15,000 requests from May 31 to June 6. The DHS then announced it was cutting off acceptance of any further petitions, and it is now proceeding with a computer-generated selection process to select the 15,000 recipients of the new visas.
Club and resort properties that requested H-2B visa workers prior to June 6, will now have their petitions run through the lottery, the NCA reported. Even for those properties that have their petitions selected, however, there is uncertainty over when their workers will arrive and be able to start.
For petitions that are not selected or were received after the June 6 cutoff date, the NCA reported, those properties will receive a refund of their application fees.
At this point, advised Brad Steele, the NCA’s VP of Government Relations and General Counsel, properties that need seasonal workers for the second half of this year should continue to work with consultants to try to find alternate means of obtaining workers. In the meantime, Steele added, the NCA and allied organizations on the H-2B Workforce Coalition will continue to push for a permanent increase in the number of H-2B visas.
“Though the lottery is an unfortunate result, it was instituted as a result of the heavy demand,” Steele said. “Because of that, NCA and our allies are discussing with DHS how many new visas it should release should this situation arise again.
“However,” Steele added, “DHS does not want to determine the number of visas—its leadership believes this is a Congressional matter. And we agree—but Congress is unlikely to help.”