DHS to Issue Almost 65,000 Additional H-2B Visas for FY 2023

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), along with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), recently announced that it intends to issue a regulation that will allow for an additional 64,716 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for fiscal year (FY) 2023. These H-2B visas are a supplement to the 66,000 H-2B visas that are already available for each fiscal year.

The supplemental visas include 20,000 visas for workers from Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador. The remaining 44,716 additional visas will go to returning workers who received an H-2B visa or were otherwise granted H-2B status, during one of the three most recent fiscal years. This portion of the supplemental visas will be divided between the first and second half of the fiscal year to account for the need for seasonal workers at different times of the year. Additionally, a portion of the visas allocated for the second half of the fiscal year will be reserved to meet the needs of the peak summer season.

DHS made these supplemental visas available at the start of FY 2023, which began on October 1, 2022, to address employers’ needs for additional seasonal workers quickly. U.S. businesses often need seasonal workers in various industries with too few American workers available, such as hospitality, tourism, landscaping, seafood processing, and more.

Furthermore, DHS and DOL continue to work together to ensure that employers first recruit American workers to fill the available positions before turning to H-2B workers, as required by law. Employing H-2B workers also may not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed American workers.

In acknowledgment that H-2B workers have a limited ability to report or leave abusive working conditions, DHS and DOL aim to ensure that unscrupulous employers cannot exploit foreign workers. For example, DHS will subject employers with a history of certain labor law violations in the H-2B program to extra scrutiny during the supplemental cap petition process. This scrutiny is designed to ensure compliance with the H-2B visa requirements.

Finally, DHS and DOL announced the creation of an H-2B Worker Protection Taskforce (“Taskforce”). The Taskforce intends to focus on the following issues:

    • Threats to H-2B program integrity;

    • H-2B workers’ fundamental vulnerabilities, including their limited ability to leave abusive employment without jeopardizing their immigration status; and

    • Impermissible use of the program to avoid hiring U.S. workers.

The Taskforce will also aid in the ongoing efforts to reform the H-2 temporary visa program. DHS intends to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking relating to the H-2 programs.

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