On December 20, 2021, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) made available another 20,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for first half of the fiscal year 2022, which runs between October 1st, 2021, and March 31st, 2022.
In general, there are 33,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas available for each half a fiscal year. In past years the DHS has added additional visas for returning H-2B workers who received an H-2B visa, or were otherwise granted H-2B status, during one of the last three fiscal years.
Prior to this year, the additional H-2B visas for returning workers were granted for the second half of the fiscal year. It is the first time in the history of the H-2B program that additional visas are granted in the first half of any fiscal year. This unprecedented action on the part of the DHS shows that the US government has taken note of the unprecedented labor shortages that are affecting the US economy.
Of the 20,000 additional H-2B visas, 13,500 visas are available to returning workers who received an H-2B visa during one of the last three fiscal years. The remaining 6,500 visas are exempt from the returning worker requirement and are reserved for nationals of Haiti and the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
Allocating additional H-2B visas to the Northern Triangle countries, and adding Haiti to the list, is part of a policy that aims to provide lawful paths for citizens of these countries to come work in the United States, instead of entering the country illegally.
In addition to announcing the availability of the supplementary 20,000 H-2B visas, the DHS secretary Mayorkas announced upcoming changes and modernization of the H-2B program that will make it more responsive to the needs of the US economy, while protecting the rights of U.S. workers. To start the process, DHS intends to issue a separate notice of proposed rulemaking that will modernize and reform the H-2B program. The proposed rule will increase program efficiencies and strengthen protections for H-2B workers against exploitation.
The H-2B program allows U.S. employers to temporarily employ foreign citizens to perform nonagricultural work in the United States. The employment must be for a limited time period to fulfill a temporary need, such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal need, peakload or intermittent need.
U.S. employers seeking to hire H-2B workers must take a series of recruitment steps to test the U.S. labor market in order to show 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. U.S. employers must also certify that employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
You can find out more information on our H-2B visa and H-2B visa requirements page.
If you are U.S. employer seeking to bring foreign workers to address a temporary need for employees, contact us or schedule an appointment with your experienced H-2B visa attorneys in Miami, Florida USA.
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