The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in coordination with the Department of Labor (DOL), has announced that it will issue a regulation making an additional 64,716 H-2B temporary non-agricultural worker visas available to employers for the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY 2023). These will be in addition to the regular allotment of 66,000 H-2B visas available every fiscal year.
The H-2B program allows employers to temporarily hire foreign national workers for non-agricultural work in the US. This employment must be temporary, such as for seasonal or intermittent work. Employers must also establish that there are not enough able, willing, and qualified workers in the US. Furthermore, it should not adversely impact similarly situated US workers.
These additions to the usual allotment of H-2B visas intend to help address the continuing labor shortage many US employers have struggled with in recent years. In conjunction with this announcement, the two federal departments have also stated that they intend to increase protections for foreign and American workers. They have revealed the intention to create a new White House-convened Worker Protection Taskforce.
Businesses in many seasonal industries, from tourism and hospitality to seafood processors, depend on H-2B visa workers to meet their staffing needs during peak seasons. By announcing the availability of these visas, early businesses contending with staffing shortages will have the opportunity to plan for their labor needs in the season ahead. For many, this is necessary as they prepare for expected shortages in the summer.
Of this supplemental visa allocation, 20,000 will go to workers from Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. These visas will provide legal migratory alternatives to undocumented immigration. The remaining 44,716 visas will be available to workers who were granted H-2B status in the previous three fiscal years.
In its announcement, the DHS stated that the regulation would divide the second category of 44,716 visas equally between the first and second halves of the fiscal year. This division will allow employers to address seasonal demand during both parts of the fiscal year. In addition, they will have a select portion reserved for the peak summer season.
For employers intending to hire workers under the H-2B and other visa programs, it is crucial to keep these workers’ added documentation requirements in mind. Among these is the added difficulty of completing Form I-9. One of the best ways to simplify this process is with an electronic I-9 management tool, which can help employers with needed documentation and provide step-by-step guidance to complete the employment eligibility verification process.
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