Maine Celebrates Additional H-2B Visa Allotment and Calls for More

Maine Celebrates Additional H-2B Visa Allotment and Calls for More
December 04, 2023

As Maine enters its holiday tourism season, state leaders recognize the need for H-2B visas. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced a joint action to help address worker shortages. They intend to nearly double the regular allotment of H-2B visas. 

However, Maine leaders continue stating that they need even more to meet the growing demand for seasonal workers. According to U.S. Senator Angus King, he and Senators from other northern states have pushed for additional H-2B visa allotments for several years. This effort has now paid off, as the DHS and DOL have added 64,716 H-2B non-immigrant visas for the entirety of the fiscal year 2024. 

This decision nearly doubled the Congressionally mandated amount of 66,000 visas. According to the DHS, this marks the highest number of H-2B visas the Department can issue in addition to the regular allotment. This one-time increase will not affect the H-2B program beyond the 2024 fiscal year. 

The H-2B program allows eligible employers to temporarily hire non-immigrant workers to work in the United States. They may perform non-agricultural labor or services that qualify under the following restrictions:

  • Temporary (i.e., nine months or less, except one-time occurrences);
  • Full-time (i.e., 35 or more hours per week); and
  • Non-agricultural employment within a specified area(s) of intended work.

To be eligible, employers must:

  • Be an employer with a valid Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN);
  • Have a place of business (i.e., physical location) in the United States and
  • Have a means allowing contact for employment.

Many employers in Maine qualify to participate in the H-2B program and depend on this program for seasonal workers. As such, many worry about whether they will meet the deadline to apply for temporary workers every year. They also hope the Departments release supplemental visas to meet their seasonal demands. 

According to the Director of Government Affairs of Hospitality Maine, these workers keep the economy going during the tourist season. However, Maine is not the only state working for an increase in these visas. Hospitality industries in many states have sought a rise in H-2B visas. As this is a one-time increase, the hospitality industry will likely continue to push for visa increases.

Employers hiring H-2B workers must complete the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9) process for all new hires. However, this process has proven challenging due to the many documents that temporary workers can present. Employers can ensure uniform completion by using an electronic I-9 management tool. This secure cloud-based program can guide employers through verification, provide digital storage, and offer easy retrieval as needed.

Increase your hiring and verification efficiency today with I-9 Compliance automation.