Additional H-2B visas released

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) have made 20,000 additional H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for the first half of fiscal year (FY) 2022 available.

These visas are for U.S. employers that are facing irreparable harm without additional workers and seeking to employ additional workers on or before March 31, the agencies report.

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, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

“The release of these additional visas is a good start to address the U.S. travel industry’s significant workforce challenges, but more is needed to ensure businesses are adequately staffed—particularly ahead of the busy summer travel season when so many businesses rely on access to temporary workers to sustain operations,” said Tori Emerson Barnes, EVP, public affairs and policy, U.S. Travel Association (USTA). “With more than 1.5 million job openings in the leisure & hospitality sector alone, we respectfully urge the administration to release additional H-2B visas, which will be instrumental in facilitating an even recovery across all sectors of travel. U.S. Travel thanks the administration for their attention to this critical labor issue and stands ready to assist as we continue through this period of economic recovery.”

The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire noncitizens to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the U.S. The employment must be for a limited period of time, such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal, or intermittent need. Employers seeking to hire H-2B workers must take a series of steps to test the U.S. labor market. They must provide certification from the Department of Labor that proves 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, and that employing the H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.