The Department of Homeland Security recently announced that it will make available 35,000 supplemental H-2B temporary nonagricultural (landscapers, hospitality and other industries) worker visas for the second half of 2020.
The allocation also comes with new conditions to protect American workers, provide relief to seasonal employers.
DHS said the allocation was determined “after extensive consultation with stakeholders—including members of Congress and the Department of Labor and that it is intended to strike a careful balance that benefits American businesses and American workers.”
Currently the cap for the number of visas allowed per fiscal year is set at 66,000. Last year the Trump administration authorized an additional 30,000 visas in the program.
The supplemental visas will be made available in two batches to prevent a small handful of employers from using all the visas: 20,000 for start dates beginning April 1, and 15,000 for start dates beginning May 15.
DHS officials stated that “Adding a second batch will address specific congressional concerns about late-season filers.”
A temporary final rule with additional details is expected to be published as soon as possible.
New to the program this year is an allocation that will also complement DHS border security initiatives.
The program will offer an opportunity for nationals of key Central American partner nations to work lawfully in the United State
This year, 10,000 of the H-2B visas are specifically designated for nationals of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras, who have entered agreements with the United States to stem the flow of illegal migration in the region.
DHS also is taking steps to promote integrity in the program, combat fraud and abuse, and ensure the supplemental allocation aligns with the national interest.
Reform measures include:
- Requiring matching start dates on an H-2B petition and the employer’s start date of need.
- Collaborating with the Department of Labor on increased employer site visits.
- Limiting the supplemental visas to returning workers, who are known to follow immigration law in good faith.
If members of the public have information that a participating employer may be abusing this program, DHS invites them to submit information to https://www.uscis.gov/report-fraud/uscis-tip-form and include information identifying the H-2B petitioning employer and relevant information that leads them to believe that the H-2B petitioning employer is abusing the H-2B program.
Individuals are also encouraged to report allegations of employer fraud and abuse to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) Wage and Hour Division by contacting 1-866-487-9243 or visit www.dol.gov/whd to locate the nearest office for assistance.