As board Member of the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), and with Pacific Landscape Management a user of H2B Visas, Bob Grover spent a lot of time working to preserve and potentially expand the H-2B visa program during this past year. He made 3 trips to Washington DC and has spent countless hours corresponding with our staff of our local congressional members.
The problem is that the program established in 1990 is limited to only 66,000 visas, half for the first half of the fiscal year beginning 10/1 and the other half for the second half of the fiscal year starting 4/1. Since 1990, the GDP has tripled but the cap had never been changed. Conversely, the H-1A program used in agriculture has no cap at all. As application for the H-2B Visa program increased to that cap, congress passed a "Returning Worker Exemption" which allowed workers who had previously been in the U.S. on an H-2B visa in the prior 2 years granted to be exempt from this cap. This exemption allowed the H-2B visas granted to grow during this past economic growth period but needed annual renewal which did not occur for 2017 or 2018. This put many companies who have relied on the program to not get visas the past 2 years. For the second half of the current year, DOL received on Jan. 1, the first day seasonal businesses could file for the visas, employers sent the DOL about 4,500 applications covering 81,600 jobs for work that begins April 1st, far exceeding the 33,000 H-2B visas available during that time.