The United States Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor are set to issue a joint temporary final rule to make available an additional 20,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for fiscal year 2022. These visas will be set aside for U.S. employers seeking to employ additional workers on or before March 31, 2022.
The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire noncitizens to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the United States. The employment must be of a temporary nature for a limited period of time, such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal need or intermittent need. Employers seeking H-2B workers must take a series of steps to test the U.S. labor market. They must also 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. In addition, they must certify that employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. Additional details on these safeguards, and on eligibility and filing requirements, will be available in the temporary final rule and the Cap Count for H-2B Nonimmigrants webpage.
This supplemental cap marks the first time that the DHS is making additional H-2B visas available in the first half of the fiscal year. Previously, Congress had set the H-2B cap at 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (Oct. 1 - March 31) and 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 - Sept. 30).
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 last 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.
“Today’s announcement is welcome news, as the lodging industry and many others continue to grapple with the tightest labor market in decades,” said Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association. “Filling open jobs is the hotel industry’s top priority, and the H-2B visa program helps hotels and other industries with strong seasonal business and workforce needs to do just that. While our members always look first to the U.S. workforce to fill critical job functions during peak seasons, the H-2B program serves as an important and necessary tool for these small businesses to bridge the employment gap.”