What Could Congress Do to Help Plug Employment Gaps in the Hotel Industry?

Imagine if…… what a specific hotel workers visa would look like…

By Michael Wildes Partner , Wildes & Weinberg | March 18, 2012

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that hotels in this country will need approximately 300,000 new workers by the year 2014. It is a fact that the U.S. is the 2nd most visited country in the world. Tourism is a very important part of the U.S. economy.

But it is clear that there is a need for immigrant workers to fill these roles. This is largely because domestic workers typically shirk hospitality careers, some citing the jobs as too basic given their educational achievements. Hospitality continues to be an unpopular career choice for many U.S. Citizens.

Traditionally immigration regulation and legislation has been reactionary. This means it is usually subject to reform in the aftermath of a triggering event such as terrorism or alternatively after economic conditions change. However, in light of the evidence of growing numbers of tourists expected to hit our shores coming mainly from emerging economy markets such as China and India; Congress should instead try to react prospectively ahead of the change to encourage the hospitality industry to flourish and accommodate the increase in tourist numbers. International tourism is becoming affordable to many more tourists in many previously lower-income countries where travel was a luxury that was out of most people's budgets.
Accordingly the U.S. will need the manpower to accommodate these growing numbers of tourists who will flock to some of the most popular U.S. holiday destinations, such as Florida, California and New York.

Congress should therefore pave the way for a hotel workers visa to plug the impending labor gap in the hotel industry.

Why don't we have this type of visa at the moment?

Visas do exist that cater for hotel jobs. However, they come in a myriad of forms. There is no specific medium to long-term solution at the moment, particularly for general hotel workers, such as housekeeping and catering staff. Congress's approach to specific hotel workers' visas has been piecemeal at best. To work in a hotel, most immigrant workers use the H2B visa. However this is a temporary seasonal visa and is not for long-term usage. Other options for hotel work are dependant upon the managerial/supervisory level of position that the worker is applying for. Take, for example, the E-2 visa for investors from certain listed countries.

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