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Sununu Says Restrictions on Temporary Worker Visas Hurt N.H.’s Economy

Dan Tuohy / NHPR
Gov. Chris Sununu, speaking before The Exchange earlier this year.

Governor Chris Sununu issued a letter this week to the U.S. Departments of Labor and Homeland Security asking for more H-2B temporary worker visas.


"With unemployment currently at 2.6%, New Hampshire has a tight labor market and it is critical for small seasonal businesses to have access to H-2B visas in order to meet their workforce needs," Sununu said in the statement.  


Russ Hart is co-owner of Hart's Turkey Farm Restaurant in Meredith. He said he's asked for 18 H-2B workers this year. “We didn't realize that the job market was going to tighten so much or we would have asked for more,” Hart said.


His restaurant is typically busy from May through November, Hart said. “And Americans are looking for jobs that are year round, so the H-2B can fill in for the summer tourist season,” he added.  


In the letter to Washington, Sununu said a recent shift from "first-come, first-serve" to a visa lottery system will leave many New Hampshire businesses without enough workers.  


Nationally, Congress has set the H-2B cap at 66,000 per fiscal year. According to Department of Labor Data, New Hampshire requested a total of 476 H-2B positions in 2016.

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