WASHINGTON—Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-Ohio) has led the introduction of legislation essential to providing relief for small and seasonal businesses that are suffering under a lapse in the H-2B visa program. H.R. 2004, the Strengthen Employment and Seasonal Opportunities Now (SEASON) Act, makes fundamental changes to the H-2B visa program to provide certainty for seasonal employers that have been plagued by the program’s inefficiencies and constantly changing regulatory environment.
The SEASON Act clarifies the role of temporary legal workers in the American economy, who are in no way seeking or becoming qualified for permanent legal status or residency in the United States under an H-2B visa. The bill stipulates that a returning temporary alien worker can receive an H-2B visa in subsequent, consecutive fiscal years without being counted towards the annual statutory cap, allowing businesses to meet labor demands during their peak seasons.
“Our small businesses are the number one job creators in this country,” said Chairman Chabot. “The need for seasonal employees is too great and too vital to the rest of the economy to let the H-2B visa program continue in its current state. Our temporary seasonal worker program is one of the most important ways we help our small and seasonal businesses thrive in peak times, and reforming it to meet this essential purpose sooner rather than later will keep doors open for our small and seasonal businesses and their American employees.”
“Thank you Chairman Steve Chabot for introducing the Strengthen Employment and Seasonal Opportunities Now (SEASON) Act to help our third generation, family-owned carnival and food concession business,” said Paul and Tom Murray of Murray Brothers, Inc., a Cincinnati-based member of the Outdoor Amusement Business Association (OABA).“Murray Brothers have been serving fairs, festivals, fund raisers, PTA events, party rentals and corporate events throughout Ohio. As small business owners, each year, we struggle to find seasonal help. The seasonal H-2B visa program has saved our company and we would find it extremely hard to run our businesses without H-2B workers.”
The SEASON Act contains provisions that authorize the Department of Homeland Security to administer the H-2B program, ensuring the safety and security of American borders in meeting the need for temporary legal workers. Additionally, the SEASON Act enhances protections for American workers and puts measures in place to keep the employers, seasonal workers, and the federal government accountable.