The Department of Homeland Security announced a supplemental increase of 22,000 visas for the H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Worker program. The additional visas will be made available in the coming months via a temporary final rule in the Federal Register.
A total of 6,000 of these visas will be reserved for nationals of the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. That move expands lawful pathways for opportunity in the U.S. consistent with Executive Order 14010, according to a DHS release.
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, and 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.
“The H-2B program is designed to help U.S. employers fill temporary seasonal jobs, while safeguarding the livelihoods of American workers,” says Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. secretary of Homeland Security.
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. The temporary final rule will allow employers to immediately hire H-2B workers who are already present in the U.S. without waiting for approval of the new petition. The 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, 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, from Oct. 1 through 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, from April 1 through Sept. 30. Unused H-2B numbers from one fiscal year do not carry over into the next fiscal year.