Trucking Companies Facing Driver Shortages are Turning Toward Immigrants to Fill those Driver Seats

Where are the truck drivers? Apparently not in the United States. In recent years, the trucking industry in the United States has been suffering with labor shortages; there are just not enough American workers under 45 years of age interested in pursuing the challenging life as a long-haul truck driver.  In fact, Americans in general, are pushing for greater work-life balance and truck driving certainly does not fulfill that goal. Although short-haul trucking options have increased, this increase has not been quick enough to fill the empty void of drivers. Driving long-haul remains the top employment opportunity for working in logistics, but workers under 45 appear to be avoiding these opportunities, even working in lower paying warehouse jobs. Trucking companies have attempted to address this shortage by increasing their recruiting and marketing budgets and offering higher pay, but to no avail. Americans are just not interested in driving trucks for a living, and recent trends depict this lack of interest is only increasing.

Until recently, trucking companies managed to stay afloat, but 2020 and the Covid-19 pandemic flooded the industry and removed any hope of an influx of drivers. As the pandemic continues, trucking companies cannot find the drivers needed as demand for the transport of certain goods has increased. This lack of ability to find drivers has forced trucking companies to turn to drivers from other countries with the qualifications to be hired in the United States. Fortunately for these companies, there are two great options for employing foreign truck drivers either for the short-term or the long-term:

  1. Short-Term Option: The H2B Temporary Non-agricultural Work Permit

To employ foreign workers under this visa, the US employer must establish that:

  • There are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.
  • Employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
  • Its need for the prospective worker’s services or labor is temporary, regardless of whether the underlying job can be described as temporary.  The employer’s need is considered temporary if it is a(n):
    • One-time occurrence – An employment situation that is otherwise permanent, but a temporary event of short duration has created the need for a temporary worker.
    • Seasonal need – Tied to a season of the year by an event or pattern and of a recurring nature.
    • Peak load need – Employer needs to temporarily supplement its permanent staff at the place of employment due to a seasonal or short-term demand; and
    • Intermittent need – Employer occasionally or intermittently needs temporary workers to perform services or labor for short periods.
  • Visa Cap
    • There are 66,000 H2B visas available annually
      • 33,000 for employment dates of October 1 through April 1
      • 33,000 for employment dates of May 1 through September 1


  • Period of Stay
    • Up to 1 year
    • Can be extended by 1-year increments up to a maximum of 3 years


  • Current Estimated Timeline for Approval
    • Typical processing times are between 3 to 4 months
    • Covid-19 Delay
      • Currently the Department of Labor is experiencing delays in processing prevailing wage applications, potentially extending the timeline an additional 3-6 months.


  • Family members can accompany the worker on an H4 visa


  • A single H2B petition can include multiple workers, up to 25


  1. Long-Term Option: EB-3 Employment-Based Permanent Resident

Employers can bring skilled workers to the US who already possess the relevant driving experience or unskilled workers with no experience.


Skilled Workers – The relevant experience and requirements are:


    • At least 2 years of job experience, education, or training that meets the job requirements specified on the labor certification.
    • The employee must perform work for which qualified workers are not available in the United States.


Unskilled Workers – The relevant experience and requirements are:


    • Less than 2 years of training or experience
    • The unskilled labor is not of a temporary or seasonal nature
    • The employee must perform work for which qualified workers are not available in the United States.


  • Visa Cap
    • Around 40,000 annual visas


  • Period of Stay
    • Permanent residence status
    • Ability to become a US Citizen


  • Current Estimated Timeline for Approval
    • Approximately 1-3 years
    • Significant delays due to Covid


  • Family members can accompany the worker to the U.S.


While these visa options bring the foreign worker to the United States, it is up to the employer to make sure the worker is appropriately licensed and trained once here. Thus, companies must be prepared to train the foreign workers and apply for their licensees immediately upon entering the United States. This remains a great opportunity to fill in those vacancies whether for a short time or a long time.

If you are a trucking company in need of further information or are interested in pursuing these visas, contact us. Along with employment and labor representation, McMahon Berger also represents businesses in immigration matters such as these. We will review your business profile, analyze the type of foreign worker(s) you want to hire, and provide you with the best option for hiring them along with the relevant information needed to speed along the process and file the petitions correctly the first time around to avoid delays.

The St. Louis employment and immigration attorneys at McMahon Berger have been representing employers across the country in labor and employment matters for over sixty years and are available to discuss these issues and others. As always, the foregoing is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice regarding any particular situation as every situation must be evaluated on its own facts. The choice of a lawyer is an important decision and should not be based solely on advertisements.