DHS to release additional 65K H-2B visas in 2023 fiscal year

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will release an additional 65K H-2B visas in the 2023 fiscal year, the maximum amount of supplemental visas allowed.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will release an additional 64,716 H-2B visas for seasonal non-agricultural workers for the upcoming year, bringing the 2023 total to 130,716.

According to DHS, 44,716 supplemental visas are available to returning H-2B workers who received a visa in the past three years. The remaining 20,000 visas, which are exempt from the returning worker requirements, are reserved for Northern Triangle countries, including employees from Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.

The National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP) expects DHS to publish the official rule before the end of the year. The rule will address both the first and second halves of the fiscal year, which the NALP expects will expedite the process for the second half of the year, which starts on April 1.

“This announcement is the first time an administration has used its discretionary authority to release the maximum amount of supplemental H-2B,” Andrew Bray, NALP senior vice president of government relations and membership, said. “We applaud the leadership and support for seasonal businesses by this Administration and look forward to working through the timely execution of this announcement and then turning to Congress to permanently fix the H-2B program once and for all.”

Bray stressed the importance of the timing of the announcement, telling Landscape Management that the October announcement will allow landscape professionals to apply for and receive their H-2B visas in time for when they are needed in April.

Green industry impact

Bray and NALP expect the demand for visas in 2023 to exceed 160,000. So while the DHS’s supplemental visas will not cover the entire need of the green industry, it will raise the chances of an applicant having their visa request approved.

The rule will include additional integrity measures to prove the need to access the supplemental visas and some additional worker protections. To strengthen these efforts, DHS and the Department of Labor also announced the creation of a new Worker Protection Taskforce.

According to DHS, the Taskforce will focus on 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 the impermissible use of the program to avoid hiring U.S. workers.

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