Wednesday, March 14, 2007

780 extra H-2B visas available this year?

I just came across this article from a few weeks ago. It talks about Major League Baseball reaching out to different parts of the world to build its fanbase and to recruit players. It also laments the lack of more African American players and managers.

Anyway, what I found interesting is that, until this year, minor league baseball players brought in from overseas used H-2B visas to enter the country. And I suppose that makes sense. Like landscaping, baseball is a seasonal industry where the players can go back home during the off-season.

Apparently, the law has changed this year. According to the article from ElitesTV, "MLB has gotten an even bigger break from the federal government in a recent change in the Immigration & Nationality Act, which was hardly publicized. Amended by the U.S. Congress in 2006 and signed into law on December 22, 2006 by President George W. Bush, it is known as the “Compete Act of 2006” or the “Creating Opportunities for Minor League Professionals, Entertainers and Teams Through Legal Entry Act of 2006.”

"The legislation changes the visa status of foreign-born minor league players to be able to use P-1 visas, formerly reserved only for major league players, and an upgrade from the H-2B visas, generally used by temporary foreign-born workers in numerous industries. Each team previously was limited to 26 H-2B visas per season for its minor leagues. Major leagues have no numerical limitations with the P-1 visa, valid for a period of 10 years."

If that is true, that means that 780 new H-2B visas should be open to industries starving for foreign labor, figuring 30 teams times 26 H-2B visas per team. Of course, that's still not nearly enough to meet the growing demand from the Green Industry and others. But it may be kind of fun to think of yourself like a baseball team and those H-2B workers you do get as your Future All Stars. — Mike Seuffert

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