ALEXANDRIA, Va.—The Department of Homeland Security has published a rule, clearing an additional 35,000 temporary worker visas, according to a statement by the department. The rule increases the total number of H-2B nonimmigrant visas by no more than 35,000 through the second half of fiscal year 2022, retroactively beginning on April 1, through September 30. This new total is in addition to the 20,000 authorized in January of this year.
“These additional H-2B visas will help employers meet the demand for seasonal workers at this most critical time, when there is a serious labor shortage,” said Department of Homeland Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas. “The visas are accompanied by significant worker protections and provide a safe and lawful pathway for individuals to come to the United States and earn wages in jobs that are not filled by American workers.”
The supplemental H-2B visa allocation consists of 23,500 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 11,500 visas are reserved for nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti, regardless of whether they are returning workers. The semiannual cap of 33,000 visas for the second half of fiscal 2022 was reached on February 25,.
The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire noncitizens to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the United States. The employment must be for a limited period, such as a one-time occurrence, or seasonal or intermittent need. Employers seeking to hire H-2B workers must take a series of steps to qualify. They must provide certification from DOL that proves 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 the H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
The department will subject employers that have committed certain labor law violations in the H-2B program to additional scrutiny in the supplemental cap petition process. This additional scrutiny is aimed at ensuring compliance with H-2B program requirements and obligations.