On May 25, 2021, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL), published a temporary final rule which increases the cap on H-2B nonimmigrant visas through the end of the 2021 fiscal year. The additional 22,000 visa are only available to United States businesses who can show they will suffer irreparable harm without the ability to employ all the H-2B workers requested.
An announcement on April 20, 2021 introduced the planned increase and included details of who would be eligible. Of the additional visas, 16,000 are available for returning H-2B workers, with a requirement that a prior H-2B visa was held during the previous three years (2018 - 2020). The remaining 6,000 visas are reserved for nationals of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador, also known as the Northern Triangle. Those 6,000 applicants do not need to satisfy the returning worker requirement. This is the first time a designated number of visas have been earmarked for a specific group of immigrant workers.
“The temporary final rule is designed to prevent permanent and severe financial loss to U.S. employers by supplementing the congressionally mandated H-2B visa cap, takes into account feedback from American businesses, employer organizations, and labor representatives, and is one piece of the administration’s broader comprehensive framework for managing migration throughout North and Central America,” said USCIS Acting Director Tracy L. Renaud. “This rule incorporates several key provisions to ensure adequate safeguards for U.S. workers and H-2B workers. The rule requires that employers take additional steps to recruit U.S. workers, and provides for “portability,” which allows H-2B workers already in the U.S. to begin employment with a new H-2B employer or agent once USCIS receives a timely filed, non-frivolous H-2B petition, but before the petition is approved. Portability enables H-2B workers to change employers more quickly if they encounter unsafe or abusive working conditions. DHS and the Department of Labor will also conduct a significant number of post-adjudication reviews to ensure compliance with the program’s requirements.”
More information on the requirements for nonimmigrant workers can be found on the USCIS website. In addition, MRA has a Work Authorization Visa (Immigrant and Nonimmigrant) Chart that can help employers determine the requirements and correct work authorization needed for temporary, nonimmigrant workers.
Sources: U.S. Department of Labor, USCIS