The Department of Homeland Security has announced it is “taking action to ensure that American businesses are equipped with the resources needed to recover successfully and contribute to the economic health of local communities.” Citing increased labor demands, the DHS has announced a supplemental increase of 22,000 visas for the H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Worker program.
Employers seeking H-2B workers must test the U.S. labor market and certify in their petitions that there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work for which they seek a prospective foreign worker. They must also show that employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. The supplemental increase will require businesses seeking H-2B workers to engage in additional recruitment efforts for U.S. workers.
More on how to qualify
The additional visas will only be made available to employers that attest that, if they do not receive workers under the cap increase, they are likely to suffer irreparable harm. Additionally, the temporary final rule will allow employers to immediately hire H-2B workers who are already present in the United States without waiting for approval of the new petition. The DHS says this portability provision is a “critical safeguard that protects both U.S. and H-2B workers, while also providing flexibilities to employers during a time when travel remains challenging.” The DHS notes that this supplemental increase is based on a time-limited statutory authority and does not affect the H-2B program in future fiscal years.
Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended, Congress has set the H-2B visa cap at 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 visas available to workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (Oct. 1 – March 31) and the remaining 33,000 (plus any unused visas from the first half of the fiscal year) available for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 – Sept. 30). Unused H-2B numbers from one fiscal year do not carry over into the next fiscal year.
Consult the DHS, or qualified legal and financial professionals, for further details.