Bush Signs Legislation to Help Delaware Businesses Hire Seasonal Workers

Carper-Sponsored Measure Would Help State’s Tourism, Construction Industries

WASHINGTON (May 12, 2005) – President Bush signed into law Wednesday legislation, cosponsored by Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., that would help Delaware businesses hire additional seasonal workers, particularly in the spring and summer months. The legislation would allow more workers to receive the so-called H-2B visas to work in the United States. Currently, only 66,000 H-2B visas can be granted per fiscal year. But because the fiscal year begins in October, employers who use summer labor, such as Delaware’s tourism and beach industry, landscapers, and construction and masonry companies, are essentially denied the chance to use the program. For the past two years, the 66,000 cap has been reached just a few months into the fiscal year. In order to obtain H-2B visas for their workers, employers must demonstrate that they attempted but were unable to find American workers. Employees receiving H-2B visas must return home after their seasonal labor is complete. They must then reapply for the visa program the following year, provided that again, the employer demonstrates that U.S. workers were not available. The legislation, “The Save Our Small and Seasonal Business Act of 2005,” would not raise the 66,000 cap but would instead create a 2-year fix by exempting returning workers (who have used the H-2B program in one of the past three years) from being counted toward the cap. If signed into law, this legislation would allow Delaware employers, many of whom hire the same workers year after year, to bring back former employees for work this spring and summer season – after completing the visa process and demonstrating that they could not find American laborers. Furthermore, beginning next year, the bill would create a visa allocation system in which half of the 66,000 visas under the cap would be available during the winter months and half during the summer months. “When companies can’t find American workers, they should be allowed to find foreign workers to keep their businesses going and our local economy strong and healthy,” said Carper. “This bill represents a common-sense way to help our local Delaware businesses, particularly our valuable tourism industry, hire extra workers in the summer when they need them the most.” The bill was attached to a supplemental spending measure, which was signed into law on Wednesday.