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Labor Shortage - Visa Curb Hits Cape Cod

While the U.S. economy is humming along at near-full employment (4.3% in June), restaurants in popular tourist areas such as Cape Cod, MA, are finding that limits on H-2B visas for foreign workers are hampering their ability to staff their businesses, according to news reports.

One possible way around the restrictions is to hire employees from Puerto Rico, who are U.S. citizens and don’t require visas. The problem of too few employees began last fall when Congress didn’t reauthorize an exemption for returning foreign workers from an annual H2B visa cap of 66,000 people – 33,000 each in summer and winter, the reports said.

The resulting shortage of labor has forced some restaurants to limit their hours due to an inability to find staff such as line cooks. Those that have found labor in some cases have lowered their standards in order to remain open. “Nobody’s really checking references,” said Scott Thomas, general manager at the Nantucket Inn in Nantucket, MA, an island off the coast of Cape Cod. “If a warm body walks through the door, you’re pretty much going to jump on them.” Click here for details.