H-2B Visa Lottery to Impact Cape Cod Businesses

HYANNIS – Employers on Cape Cod may struggle to find seasonal workers this summer as changes have been made to the H-2B visa program.

The Department of Homeland Security said last week that a new, unannounced lottery had been held to determine which employers would receive H-2B visas and that the cap had already been reached.

Congressman William Keating (D-Bourne), who has been an advocate for the H-2B program and exempting returning workers from the program’s cap, says the Trump Administration out-of-touch with the requirements of businesses.

“You can’t schedule inventory, hire local personnel, or market a business based on a last-minute lottery,” Keating said.

Keating believes the Administration is tying the program to the immigration issue.

“This is an economic issue,” Keating said. “Thousands of businesses across the country will not be able to fully operate without H-2B worker assistance.”

Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce CEO Wendy Northcross said many Cape and Island employers could be impacted because many had not received labor certifications of had not yet completed the process to be included in the lottery.

“Bottom line – what this means is that there will be a lot of employers who won’t get enough seasonal help this year,” Northcross said.

Northcross said the process has been stymied through politics or not enough federal employees to handle the program.

“Unfortunately the reliance on that H-2B visa program has really hurt some employers and this year they are going to be hurt even more because the process is just broken,” said Northcross.        

The Chamber is appealing to Keating and Governor Baker to see what can be done in Washington.

“Can we wait for people to get their paperwork in and do the lottery again?,” she said. “That’s the best we can ask for at this exact moment in time while we work on some of the longer term fixes of that program.”

The cap for H-2B workers has been just over 30,000 per year and Northcross said Cape businesses usually received about 3,000 of the workers.

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