Theres more work available to you and, therefore, more profit. However, more work often means that you need more workers.
Problem being, that while demand may be up, supply isnt. There has been little growth in the available workforce of U.S. citizens for the green industry. There just arent enough citizens available to do the work that needs to get done. Employers are finding that they have no choice but to fill these positions with non-U.S. citizens.
Immigration, particularly illegal immigration, has been in the news a lot lately. Its a complicated issue, and you may be wary of employing any foreign workers. However, there is a perfectly legal way to hire the labor you need. Its called the H-2B temporary worker program.
This non-immigrant visa program is regularly used in the landscaping field to provide a seasonal workforce when sufficient numbers of U.S. workers are unavailable. It allows you to hire non-citizens for seasonal or intermittent employment, or to meet a peak load need or one-time occurrence.
The key here is seasonal, because you will need to prove that the position youre hiring for is temporary. In general, temporariness means that the employers need must be for the duration of one year or less. If the employer has a continuous temporary need for labor, it will be viewed as a permanent need, and the H-2B application will be denied.
Landscaping is often considered a seasonal business that is active and busy only in certain seasons, and then slows or shuts down in colder months. This makes it an ideal industry to hire H-2B workers for. To get a foreign worker an H-2B visa, you must show that youre hiring him only for your active and busy season, and that you wont need him beyond that time.
You will also need to submit a temporary labor certification on the workers behalf. In general, the temporary labor certification serves two purposes. First, it demonstrates that there are no U.S. citizens available for the position. In a sense, youre proving you have no choice but to hire a non-citizen.
Second, certification shows that the employment of the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wage rate and working conditions of similarly employed workers in the United States. The government wants to protect the wage rate and working conditions of U.S. citizens, and this part of the certification proves that hiring this worker wont interfere with that.
Of course, every rule has its exceptions, and the laws governing H-2B visas are no different. While technically an H-2B visa is good for only one year, if you find youre in need of help beyond that time, you can apply for your worker to have an extension of stay. This may be granted for a period of up to one year, and requires your filling out a few additional forms and certifications.
The maximum period for which a foreign national can be admitted into the U.S. as an H-2B worker is three years. The worker cannot be readmitted to the program or extend his stay beyond that threeyear maximum. However, if the foreign worker resided out of the U.S. for at least six months immediately prior to the application, he is once again eligible for the H-2B visa.
If a foreign worker is concerned about his family being allowed to join him in the U.S., that too is possible. While a workers spouse and children cannot receive H-2B visas, they can apply for H-3 visas.
There are 66,000 H-2B visas available per fiscal year. Thats 66,000 opportunities for you to get the help you need. If you have more work than you and your current workers can handle, maybe you should consider applying for an H-2B visa and hiring a foreign worker.