13 July 2006

America: Aspen survives threat to seasonal workers

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The skiing and leisure industry in the key resort of Aspen, Colorado, is breathing a little easier after a bill that required all seasonal workers to hold a state driving license was defeated.

A special session earlier this week saw the Colorado legislature pass a far reaching immigration bill that is set to receive approval by Governor Bill Owens, a leading figure in campaign for immigration reform on a national level.

Rejected by legislators was the passage that would have insisted on all seasonal workers in Aspen's thriving skiing industry to hold Colorado driving licences to confirm their eligibility to work in the State. If passed the measure would have threatened the steady supply of labor the industry receives from overseas under the H-2B visa programme. The H-2B visa allows hundreds of mainly young ski and snowboarding instructors to seek seasonal employment, many of them taking a gap year out from university.

"That would have been absurd," Aspen Skiing Company's Jim Laing said of the defeated measure, speaking to the Aspen Daily News. "It would have been a knockout punch for the whole community."

The H2B Visa is a temporary visa allowing employers in America to recruit overseas workers if the need for the foreign employee is only temporary in nature. This visa is granted for a 1 year period and may be extended for additional periods of 1 year to a maximum of 3 years, although an extension is very rare and hard to obtain.

If you are interested in seasonal work in America, Visa Bureau offer a free online assessment.

Meanwhile, approved under House Bill 1023 though was a requirement for anyone receiving public benefits to prove he or she is a citizen first.

Two-thirds of the Colorado General Assembly voted through the measure that affects nearly one million Coloradans who receive benefits from the state.

From August 1st, all recipients of state benefit must provide either a Colorado driver's license, a state or military identification card, or a Native American tribal document to prove their status.

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