Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) urged the Biden Administration to address the current green card, visa, and work permit application backlogs to help address ongoing workforce shortages.
“As businesses across the country continue to face workforce shortages, taking long-term efforts to decrease processing backlogs and delays will help ensure that employers will be able to find the help that they need,” the Senators wrote to Department of Labor Secretary (DOL) Marty Walsh. “Several immigrant visas require employers to get approval from the Department of Labor before the employer can submit a visa petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).”
“The H-1B, H-2B and employment-based visa programs all require the Department of Labor to conduct a prevailing wage determination to make sure that hiring a foreign worker will not negatively impact wages and working conditions of similar employees,” the Senators continued. “As of May, some employers who filed applications for a prevailing wage determination in November were still waiting for their applications to be processed…As communities across the country continue to face workforce shortages, it is important that the Department of Labor has the resources it needs to decrease processing times.”
“Our thanks go out to Senator Collins for her reaching out to the Department of Labor to attempt to reduce the delays on processing times for work visa applications,” said Greg Dugal, Director of Government Affairs for HospitalityMaine. “As more and more seasonal businesses look to these guest worker programs, speeding up the process is a critical element of a successful season. The current delays are unacceptable.”
Senator Collins has long led efforts to address workforce shortages. Following a push she co-led in May, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the DOL announced that a temporary rule had been finalized that will provide an additional 35,000 H-2B visas to help small businesses fill seasonal job openings during the busy summer season. These visas will supplement the previous supply of 33,000 H-2B visas for the second half of the current fiscal year, all of which have been claimed.
In a bipartisan effort to permit asylum seekers to find employment more quickly and become self-sufficient, Senators Collins and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) introduced legislation in February to shorten the waiting period before asylum seekers are allowed to receive work authorizations.
In May 2021, Senators Collins, Klobuchar, Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Joni Ernst (R-IA) introduced bipartisan legislation to increase the number of doctors able to work in rural and medically underserved communities. The Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Reauthorization Act would allow international doctors to remain in the U.S. upon completing their residency under the condition that they practice in rural or underserved areas.
Click HERE to read the full letter.