The Department of Homeland Security, or DHS, announced on October 12, 2022, that it will issue a regulation making an additional 64,716 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas available to employers for the fiscal year 2023. This is in addition to the 66,000 H-2B visas that are normally available every fiscal year.
The DHS is implementing this increase in order to help address the need for seasonal workers. The Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security will work together to ensure that employers are first seeking out and recruiting American workers for their open and pressing positions, and that foreign workers are protected and not exploited when being offered a job via an employer applying for an H-2B visa on their behalf.
In order to protect both American and foreign workers, the DOL and DHS have created a new White House-convened Worker Protection Taskforce, which will help American businesses plan better for peak season labor needs while also safeguarding the H-2B visa program to protect foreign workers and ensure that they are being paid fairly and are working in safe conditions.
What is the Worker Protection Taskforce?
The Worker Protect Taskforce put into effect by the DHS and DOL will focus on both threats to the integrity of the H-2B visa program as well as protecting H-2B workers who may feel they have limited ability to leave an abusive employment situation without the risk of losing their immigration status. It will also fight against unlawful use of the program as a way to avoid hiring US workers. Policies will likely be enacted to address these issues and will be an ongoing effort. Proposed rule-making regarding the H-2B visa program will be announced in the near future.
Who Will the Additional H-2B Visas be Available To?
The allocation of the additional H-2B visas will include 20,000 visas to workers from Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Additionally, the remaining 44,716 visas will be available to returning workers who received an H-2B visa or were granted H-2B status within one of the last three fiscal years. These remaining visas for returning workers will be allocated between the first half and second half of FY 2023 to meet the demand for workers seasonally.
What is the H-2B Visa Program?
The H-2B visa allows American employers to hire non-citizens on a temporary basis to hold a nonagricultural job within the US. The job must meet the criteria of being a one-time occurrence, seasonal, or intermittent. Employers who are interested in finding H-2B workers need to show that they are unable to find a suitable worker for the position within the United States, as well as proving that hiring an H-2B worker will not adversely affect wages or working conditions of their employed US workers.
For more information on the H-2B visa program, visit the USCIS Cap Count for H-2B Nonimmigrants page.