While arguing for the expansion of the H-2B temporary worker program, CATO paper asserts that the costs and complexity of the program are a disincentive for many employers and need to be reduced

David J. Bier

This paper discuses the H-2B visa program — for temporary workers coming to perform seasonal, non-agricultural work. It explains in detail the complex rules employers must navigate when applying for H-2B workers. The author provides various statistics on the H-2B program, including top sending countries, job categories for which the greatest number of H-2B workers are employed and states receiving the greatest number of H-2B workers. The author discusses abuse in the H-2B program, and notes that most violations found by the Department of Labor are minor and, according to the author, the complexity of the rules make it likely some employers will be tripped up. The author also discusses trends in the U.S. workforce that have led to decreased availability of U.S. workers and increased demand for H-2B workers. He also shows that the hiring of H-2B workers by a company leads to the hiring of U.S. workers at higher levels in the company (supervisors, accountants, etc., to support a larger business made possible by having the necessary workers at lower levels). In the author’s view, “[m]any employers cannot use the program for three reasons: the cap is too low, the costs are too high, and the process is too long and complex.” He makes a number of recommendations for expanding the program and making the rules less burdensome for employers. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Consulting)



H-2B Visas:  The Complex Process for Nonagricultural Employers to Hire Guest Workers,
CATO Institute, February 16, 2021, 41 pp.
Author:  David J. Bier