The Departments of Homeland Security and Labor raised the quota of H2B workers to 15,000 for the remainder of financial year 2017 in order to meet the growing demands of businesses in America. The petitioner will have to attest to the fact that their business is in desperate need of additional workers without whom it will suffer irreparable losses. This was in response to the awareness that there weren’t enough qualified and willing U.S. workers available to perform temporary nonagricultural labor to satisfy the needs of these businesses this year.
Starting this week, eligible petitioners for H-2B visas can file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker and must submit a supplemental attestation on Form ETA 9142-B-CAA with their petition. Details on eligibility and filing requirements are available in the final rule and on the One-Time Increase in H-2B Nonimmigrant Visas for FY 2017.
This is a one-time increase only and specifically caters to the low-wage, seasonal workers in fisheries, hospitality and other industries that rely on temporary foreign workers. This does not include farm laborers. Should someone have any information regarding an abuse of this program, DHS invites them to submit information to ReportH2BAbuse@uscis.dhs.gov. A new tip line to report general H-2B abuse and employer violations has also been established.
The H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Worker program is meant for U.S. businesses seeking foreign workers if and when they are unable to fulfil their labor requirements from local sources. This pertains to nonagricultural work of a temporary nature. The annual H-2B visa cap is at 66,000 with a maximum of 33,000 meant for the first half of the fiscal year. The remainder is applicable starting April 1 through September 30 for which the additional visas were ordered. On March 13, 2017, USCIS received sufficient H-2B petitions to meet the full FY 2017 statutory cap of 66,000.
While the additional 15,000 accounts for a 45 percent increase from its original cap, there are exemptions for those who do not fall under this cap –
- H2B workers who extend their stay, change employers, or change the terms and conditions of employment;
- H-2B workers who have previously been counted against the cap in the same fiscal year. The employer however, has to name the workers on the petition and indicates that they have already been counted;
- The spouse and children of H-2B workers classified as H-4 nonimmigrants;
- Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians or supervisors of fish roe processing;
- Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands or Guam from November 28, 2009, until December 31, 2019.