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Change to temporary US work visa could harm country’s ski industry

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
The US ski industry has warned that two major developments to H2B (temporary) work visas last week could harm the ski industry this season. One change is that the exemption from the cap for returning workers expired on September 30, 2007. The other is that the cap of 33,000 H2B visas for the first half of 2008 was reached on October 1, 2007. This means that any visa applications submitted after September 27, 2007 will be rejected unless and until Congress steps in to help the ski industry....Estimates suggest that there are at least 50,000 outstanding H-2B applications and workers that are in grave danger of being unable to come to the US to work. Even if Congress adopts a retroactive exemption for returning H2B workers and the cap is opened back up, applications submitted after September 27, 2007 are not likely to be processed in time for the ski holidays.

Ski resorts in the US rely heavily on international workers to fill seasonal positions. There are two types of such workers who generally come to the US on temporary work visas: students, who use a J1 visa, and skilled workers, who use the H-2B temporary work visa. For the J1 visa, a person must be a full-time, matriculated student at an American or foreign university and must return to school after their winter break is over. H-2B visa holders are able to stay in the US longer on their visas (i.e. for the whole ski season) because they don't have the time constraint of returning to school.

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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Ouch! This could really hurt some resorts, and could certainly cause problems for Kirkwood in the future which due to it's relatively remote location relies very heavily on overseas workers and the J1 visas cause their own problems for ski areas because they aren't long enough to cover to the season, plus they don't allow for returning staff, which the H2B visas did. The exception from the cap is a real problem not just in terms of numbers, but because it will be much less certain that staff that have worked a number of seasons will be able to return.
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