11/25/2012 03:58:16 PM EST
Colorado Ski Resorts Lose H-2B Workers, Keep J-1 Visas Steady
"Four years ago Aspen Skiing Co. hosted about 400 H2B visa workers in operations at its four Roaring Fork Valley ski areas. This year, there will be two among its 2,000 employees. "H2Bs have essentially gone away," said Jim Laing, vice-president of human resources for Aspen Skiing. But even if regulations surrounding the H2B visa program had not become more complicated, it's doubtful resorts would still be using it to recruit workers from places like Australia and New Zealand. One of the stipulations for hiring a H2B visa worker is proving that the position could not be filled by a U.S. worker. In the boom times of the early aughts, locals weren't exactly lining up for jobs in resort cafeterias or chairlift terminals, leaving resorts to look for help abroad. Today, locals are hungrier for work. "We are focusing our recruiting efforts in the valley," Laing said. "People who were in other lines of work seem to be coming back, and they need the work, and we are happy to have them." Still, resorts like Vail and Aspen are employing the popular cultural and educational exchange workers using J-1 visas, with many coming from South America to work for four months during the winter." - Denver Post, Nov. 25, 2012.