The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, in coordination with the Department of Labor, has proposed a regulation to augment the H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visa program. This move aims to supplement the annual quota and address challenges faced by U.S. employers in securing temporary, non-citizen workers for seasonal jobs.
Key Points of the H-2B Visa Expansion:
👉Total Visas for 2024 Fiscal Year: The proposed regulation aims to increase the total number of available H-2B visas to 130,716 for the 2024 Fiscal Year.
👉Country Allocations: 20,000 of the additional visas will be allocated to specific countries, including Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti.
👉Supplemental Visas for Previous Workers: About 45,000 supplemental visas will be granted to temporary workers who received H-2B visas in the past three fiscal years.
H-2B Program Overview:
The H-2B program allows U.S. employers to hire non-citizens for seasonal or temporary nonagricultural work, with requirements to demonstrate a shortage of qualified U.S. workers.
Industry Response and Requests for Congressional Support:
Despite the increased visas, demand surpasses the quota. AHLA acknowledges the significance but emphasizes the need for additional congressional support, including an H-2B returning worker exemption, the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act, and the H-2 Improvements to Relieve Employers (HIRE) Act.
The HIRE Act and Business Community Support:
Introduced by Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX), the HIRE Act proposes extending H-2B worker stay and streamlining visa renewal. Supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, it aims to ease compliance burdens for employers seeking essential workers.
The proposed H-2B visa expansion is a vital step in addressing seasonal labor demands and migration concerns. Collaborative efforts between government agencies, industry associations, and congressional support remain essential for a balanced immigration system meeting the needs of both employers and workers.