The federal government has announced good news for the many businesses that need temporary or seasonal workers through the H-2B program. The government has announced it will issue approximately double the average number of visas. The Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a temporary final rule to make 64,716 more available for 2023. They expect to include these on top of the 66,000 they allocate yearly.
According to Homeland Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas, they will issue these extra visas earlier than usual. This step allows businesses time to plan for their labor needs. He also said that, with the current record of job growth, the visas would give non-citizens a safe and lawful path to the United States if they prove willing to fill jobs that Americans do not.
Businesses have asked for more H-2B visas for years due to how limited they became under the former president. Most of the additional visas will go to workers who have received H-2B visas sometime in the last three years and expect to return; this will add up to 44,700. The rest will go to foreign national workers from Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, and El Salvador, regardless of their status as returning workers.
Employers rely on H-2B visas to fill jobs in industries such as food services, construction, landscaping, hotels, and others. H-2A visas, which last up to ten months, typically send workers to orchards, farms, and similar businesses with needs for many temporary or seasonal workers. During the current year, the federal government issued over 317,000 visas for these types of jobs. However, the DOL revealed they have no limit on the number of issuable H-2A visas.
Businesses can apply for the 18,216 H-2B visas that will become immediately available for returning workers. These visas will go to workers starting between January 1 and March 31. In addition, 16,500 more H-2B visas will become available for businesses that apply before April 1 for returning workers. This number will remain available regardless of the country or nationality of the workers. Furthermore, 10,000 more will become available for the rest of the fiscal year for those expecting to work on May 15. However, businesses must use these visas for temporary workers for a limited time, such as for seasonal work.
Employers who hire H-2B workers must complete the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9). This process can prove more complicated for these workers due to the many available forms of documentation they may present. The easiest way to complete Form I-9 is to invest in an electronic I-9 management system. This system will guide employers through every step and safely store the forms and documentation.
When it comes to your work, automation makes eligibility verification quick and seamless. Get a head start today with I-9 Compliance.