Senate Bill Aims to Restrict H-2B Visa Holders from Multifamily
In a pre-emptive move, NAHB has joined a group of 11 other leading organizations in the construction industry to send a letter to Senate and House leaders that strongly opposes pending legislation by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) that would impose harmful and unjustified restrictions on access to the H-2B temporary seasonal visa program by employers in the construction industry.
Any day now, the two senators will introduce the Seasonal Employer Protection Act of 2023, legislation that targets the construction sector at a time when the residential construction industry is facing a severe labor shortage.
The H-2B temporary visa program is presently the only legal program of its kind available to construction industry employers. NAHB is deeply concerned that Congress would consider banning any industry employers from utilizing a legal program to hire legal foreign-born workers. The bill specifically targets the housing industry by including language that prohibits multifamily developers from employing H-2B visa holders if their company is not part of a collective bargaining agreement.
As NAHB and other construction organizations stated in their letter to leaders of the Senate and House Judiciary Committees, “the multifamily and commercial construction sectors are particularly targeted for exclusion in this legislation, which would arbitrarily harm such businesses, increase costs and ultimately exacerbate the housing affordability crisis already ravaging the market, further disadvantaging low- and moderate-income individuals.”
Given the severe workforce shortages in the construction industry, NAHB and the other construction organizations have long supported the development of fair, efficient, and workable temporary visa programs that will create legal pathways for temporary workers to enter the United States, as well as a robust process by which all employers can apply to hire those workers.
But as we forcefully stated to lawmakers, “the language [in this bill] was developed without data or justification, [and] based on no conversation with the construction industry sector employers who are impacted by it.”
By limiting the ability of construction industry employers to utilize the program, the proposed legislation stands to harm the many thousands of U.S. workers whose workflow and continued employment often depend on the supplemental H-2B workers who fill out their teams during high-demand periods and peak seasons. Seasonal workers support many upstream and downstream American jobs, and add to economic growth in all industries, including the construction industry.
While NAHB will aggressively fight to kill the Seasonal Employer Protection Act of 2023, we also believe the current statutory cap of 66,000 annual H-2B visas is woefully inadequate to meet current demand in today’s economy in which workforce shortages are becoming ever more acute.
Therefore, NAHB supports sensible reforms to make the program more effective, and we continue to hope to be part of a constructive dialogue that makes progress on this issue in a way that supports all U.S. employers and workers.