The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has again announced that it will issue an additional 64,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas. These visas will apply to the fiscal year 2024 with the Department of Labor (DOL). As a result, these allocations will fill the entire discretionary cap Congress authorized for a second year in a row.
The DHS will provide the exact details under a soon-to-be-released temporary final rule. However, many details were outlined by the department in advance so employers could prepare for the greater allotment. In addition to the congressionally mandated 66,000 visas available for each fiscal year, the agency will allot another 64,716 H-2B visas.
These additional H-2B visas intend to meet the growing demand for seasonal workers. Lately, the program has experienced an overwhelming need for seasonal workers by employers. American businesses like hotels, landscaping, and seafood processing use these visas to meet the significant demand in certain periods of the year.
The agency has already exhausted the Congressional allotment of available H-2B visas for the first half of the fiscal year 2024. This announcement also included Congress’s attempt to create an exemption for returning workers who failed to make it through the House of Representatives earlier in 2023. As a result, the DHS and DOL have used their discretionary annual cap to meet the heavy demands currently facing the labor market. This action made over 130,000 H-2B visas available for the 2024 fiscal year.
The DHS also indicated it would create lawful immigration pathways similar to the prior fiscal year. This decision would designate 20,000 available visas for workers from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, and Honduras. The remaining 44,716 visas will become available for returning workers who held H-2B status in any of the previous three fiscal years.
The agency will allocate these supplemental visas between the first and second halves of the fiscal year. This practice accounts for seasonal demand throughout the course of the year. However, it will reserve a notable number of the second half’s allocations for the summer season. This decision addresses the significant demand for seasonal workers during this time.
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