Additional H2B Visas to be Made Available this Fiscal Year07 Nov 2022
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that approximately 65,000 additional H2B visas will be made available for the current fiscal year. In addition, the White House is creating an H2B Worker Protection Taskforce designed to protect the integrity of the program and root out abuse by certain employers who employ H2B workers.
Overview of H2B Program
The H2B visa category is designed to help a U.S. employer in an industry with peak load, seasonal, or intermittent needs to augment its existing labor force with temporary workers. In addition, a U.S. employer may use the H2B program if there is a one-time occurrence that necessitates a temporary increase in workers. The H2B visa category is used by several different industries but is especially prevalent in the construction and food services industries.
Per this new regulation, the DHS is making 64,716 additional H2B visas available for fiscal year 2023, which runs through September 30, 2023. The regulation explains that 20,000 of these new H2Bs are reserved exclusively for workers from Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The remaining 44,716 visas then will be made available to those who are classified as “returning” workers. This means that the worker has held valid H2B status at some point in the last three fiscal years. The returning worker visas also will be spread out over the course of the fiscal year to account for different periods when seasonal workers are needed.
Increased Protections for U.S. and H2B Workers
The H2B Worker Protection Taskforce will focus on three areas of concern related to the H2B program. First, the taskforce will examine any threats to the integrity of the H2B program. Second, the taskforce will examine means of protecting H2B workers, such as the ability to leave an abusive employer without risking one’s lawful immigration status. Finally, the taskforce will work to ensure that U.S. employers are not utilizing the program to avoid hiring U.S. workers.
The H2B program is a key component of how the U.S. immigration system helps U.S. employers fill temporary positions and bolster the U.S. economy. Temporarily increasing the availability of H2B workers should alleviate some of the economic pressures created by the pandemic, while the work of the taskforce should help prevent abuse in this category.
Copyright © 2022, MURTHY LAW FIRM. All Rights Reserved