US Rep. Lloyd Smucker, R-Pa., introduced legislation last week that would create an immigration visa system for less-skilled workers to do year-round, nonfarm work. The H-2C visa would allow workers to enter the US to work for an approved employer at an approved location for a specifically-approved job.
“Filling our workforce needs is a key component to boosting our workforce and our economy,” Smucker said. The Workforce for an Expanding Economy Act “will help fill job slots and I urge my colleagues to support it.”
The main beneficiaries of the program would be the construction and hospitality industries. In order to receive approval for a visa, employers would be required to prove they were unable to find American workers for vacant positions, co-sponsor Francis Rooney, R-Fla., said. They would also be required to use the E-verify system to confirm worker eligibility and pay fair wages based on local wage data.
“It is time to reform our outdated immigration laws in order to vet and admit, by means of a work-permit system based on skills and not family relations, the workers our economy needs to grow,” Rooney said.
The Associated General Contractors of America, which represents more than 26,000 construction firms, supports the legislation. “The shortage of available, qualified, workers in many parts of the country threatens to undermine continued economic growth,” said Stephen E. Sandherr, CEO of the association.
The bill has been referred to the Judiciary Committee as well as the Ways and Means and Oversight and Reform Committees for review.