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Dept. of Homeland Security adds 35,000 H-2B visas

March 10, 2020 -  By

The Department of Homeland Security will make available 35,000 supplemental H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for the second half of fiscal year (FY) 2020. The allocation also comes with new conditions to provide relief to seasonal employers who truly need it and reduce fraud and abuse in the program.

DHS also announced that it will take necessary anti-fraud and abuse measures to protect the integrity of the H-2B visa program.

New to the program this year is an allocation that will also complement DHS border security initiatives. The program will offer an opportunity for nationals of key Central American partner nations to work lawfully in the U.S. Of the released H-2B visas, 10,000 are specifically designated for nationals of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, in support of these countries’ efforts to work with the U.S. to stem the flow of illegal migration in the region and encourage lawful migration to the U.S.

DHS says that long-term reforms need to be made by Congress to this program going forward. In the interim, the Department is taking steps to promote integrity in the program, combat fraud and abuse and ensure the supplemental allocation aligns with the national interest.

Reform measures include:

  • Requiring matching start dates on an H-2B petition and the employer’s start date of need;
  • collaborating with the Department of Labor on increased employer site visits; and,
  • generally limiting the supplemental visas to returning workers, who are known to follow immigration law in good faith.

This year’s supplemental allocation was determined after extensive consultation with stakeholders — including members of Congress and the Department of Labor — and is intended to strike a careful balance that benefits American businesses and American workers.

The supplemental visas will be made available in two batches to prevent a small handful of employers from using all the visas: 20,000 for start dates beginning April 1, and 15,000 for start dates beginning May 15. Adding a second batch will address specific congressional concerns about late-season filers.

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