The H2B Program Under Trump

 

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Photo by Gage Skidmore.

A shift in political power always brings about changes for small business owners. In the Landscaping industry, many hiring managers rely on the H2B immigration program to provide work visas during peak season so that they have the manpower they need. Now, Landscapers are wondering what kind of changes to expect under a new and, at times, unpredictable administration.

Immigration was a hot topic this past election season. President Trump ran a campaign that was intensely focused on stopping illegal immigration and securing America’s borders, but his policies on legal immigration procedures were often not as clear. Notably, publications like The New York Times pointed out that a number of Trump’s businesses have utilized the H2B program in the past to recruit seasonal immigrant workers. To some, this was proof that Trump was amendable to supporting visa programs. To others, this merely exposed Trump as a hypocrite.

Regardless of where you stand politically, it’s increasingly important to have a working knowledge of immigration policy, especially as these policies become more complicated and controversial. If you’re a small business owner interested in using the H2B program, you’ll want to keep a close watch on the new administration. One small change in policy could change everything for your business.

What is H2B?

The H2B visa was created for foreign workers who come into The United States and do seasonal, non-agricultural work. Many resorts, hotels, and landscaping companies use H2B workers during their peak seasons. At Roanoke Landscapes, we have 6-10 seasonal workers join us every spring through the H2B visa program. There is a strict cap of 66,000 visas per year which, in the past, has limited our work force. We have also experienced considerable delays in past years, which has handicapped us during the beginning of our peak season (mid March). To us and many other landscaping professionals, our foreign workforce is essential to our success as a company, and when visas are denied or delayed, we feel that strain.

How Will H2B Policies Change Over the Next Four Years?

Good question! President Trump has not yet laid out his full immigration plan. What we do know thus far is that Trump has promised to revamp the United States’ entire immigration policy, so that would likely effect everything from the H2B program to the green card program. He has explicitly promised to make drastic changes to the H1B (for temporary, skilled workers) program and further regulate the green card system, but it is unclear how he will change the H2B program. Many Landscaping professionals are watching out for a smaller visa cap or delays as America adjusts to new immigration policies and the new administration in general. At this point, it is best to proceed with caution, keeping in mind that even a seemingly small change in immigration policy could seriously damage your business. Keep your eyes peeled for policy changes and be prepared to go through an adjustment period—you’re not the only one.

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