ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Biden Administration has cleared 20,000 additional temporary worker visas, making these workers eligible to be hired in the winter months, reports Bloomberg Law.
The temporary final rule to make available an additional 20,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas was announced by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor in late December. These visas will be set aside for U.S. employers seeking to employ additional workers on or before March 31, 2022.
This is the first time that DHS is making additional H-2B visas available in the first half of the fiscal year.
The supplemental H-2B visa allocation consists of 13,500 visas available to returning workers who received an H-2B visa, or were otherwise granted H-2B status, during one of the past three fiscal years. The remaining 6,500 visas, which are exempt from the returning worker requirement, are reserved for nationals of Haiti and the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.
The program allows for these visa holders to work in the U.S. for up to three years, and they can return after leaving for three months. The visas are primarily used for hiring in landscaping, hospitality, forestry and seafood processing.
“At a time of record job growth, additional H-2B visas will help to fuel our nation’s historic economic recovery,” said Secretary Mayorkas. “DHS is taking action to protect American businesses and create opportunities that will expand lawful pathways to the United States for workers from the Northern Triangle countries and Haiti. In the coming months, DHS will seek to implement policies that will make the H-2B program even more responsive to the needs of our economy, while protecting the rights of both U.S. and noncitizen workers.”
However, labor unions and worker advocates have criticized the lifting of the 66,000 annual cap on temporary work visas and want the Biden Administration to strengthen safeguards on the program through a separate rulemaking process announced last year to reform the program.
According to NACS’ government affairs team, NACS is exploring ways to modify immigration laws to allow for more temporary workers.