The Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security recently announced that there will be 35,000 additional H-2B visas available to help meet the demand for seasonal workers. This could be very helpful for the many employers trying to meet their need for seasonal employees during serious labor shortages. These visas are for U.S. employers hiring workers through September 30, 2022.
The additional visas consist of 11,500 visas that are reserved for nationals of Haiti, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. The remaining 23,500 visas are for returning H-2B workers.
The H-2B program allows employers to hire non-citizens to work in the United States on a temporary basis for non-agricultural services or labor. However, the job is required to be for a limited time period, such as for a one-time job or for intermittent or seasonal jobs. Additionally, employers must verify that there are not enough U.S. workers willing, qualified, and available to do the work the H-2B workers are being employed for.
There are 66,000 visas available annually for the H-2B guest-worker program. The visas are split evenly between the first and second halves of the fiscal year. The visas are used heavily by the construction and hospitality industries, among others.
This additional allocation of visas will be helpful for many employers, but it is expected to fall well short of the demand for these visas. For those employers who want to obtain H-2B workers, here is how to file.
If an employer wants to hire an H-2B worker, they must first test the U.S. labor market and then verify that there are insufficient U.S. employees who are willing and qualified to do the job they have open. They must also certify that hiring H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly positioned U.S. workers.
Employers looking to hire H-2B workers need to make an effort to hire U.S. workers for the available jobs. This could include contacting former U.S. workers to see if they are interested in the available jobs and working with State Workforce Agencies, along with other attempts to recruit U.S. workers for the jobs.
The Department of Homeland Security stated that employers who have committed certain labor law violations in the H-2B program will be subjected to greater scrutiny in an effort to ensure compliance with the requirements and obligations of the H-2B program.
For those employers that do hire H-2B workers, it will be necessary to complete Form I-9. This can be complicated due to the wide range of documentation employers may be presented. Fortunately, an electronic I-9 management tool can help by guiding hiring personnel through the complete process and ensuring that forms and documentation are stored correctly.
Make things a little less complicated for your business by automating your employment eligibility verification and ensuring compliance with I-9 Compliance.