Colorado ski resorts, hurting for workers, applaud one-time increase in visas |

Colorado ski resorts, hurting for workers, applaud one-time increase in visas

Jason Blevins
The Denver Post

The ski resort industry on Monday celebrated Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly’s approval of a one-time increase in the number of H-2B visas for seasonal workers, but the bump in temporary employees likely will be gone by the time ski season arrives.

“This is an ongoing battle. We won this battle, but the ongoing war continues,” said Dave Byrd, the director of regulatory affairs for the National Ski Areas Association, which sent a letter this spring to Kelly urging him to grow the number of allowed temporary worker visas. “We are going to continue to hit up Congress for more access to foreign workers because Americans want year-round jobs that come with benefits and we have a lot of seasonal business and need more access to labor.”

As unemployment levels across the country plummet, the resort industry joins amusement park and golf course operators, landscaping and forestry companies and fisheries among seasonal businesses calling for Congress to increase the number of annual H-2B visas beyond the cap of 66,000. Kelly, who had received discretionary authority from Congress to temporarily increase the number of worker visas for nonfarm workers, announced Monday he was adding 15,000 H-2B visas for fiscal 2017.

The increase represents a 45 percent bump from the number of H-2B visas normally issued for the second half of the fiscal year, said senior Homeland Security officials in a call with reporters.

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