U.S. Department of Homeland Security adds 15,000 H-2B visas

May 30, 2018 -  By

Logo: Department of Homeland SecurityThe Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that an additional 15,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas will be available for fiscal year 2018.

The allocation is in addition to the 66,000 visas already issued this year.

“The limitations on H-2B visas were originally meant to protect American workers, but when we enter a situation where the program unintentionally harms American businesses, it needs to be reformed,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen. “As Secretary, I remain committed to protecting U.S. workers and strengthening the integrity of our lawful immigration system and look forward to working with Congress to do so.”

According to a DHS press release, Secretary Nielsen determined there are not sufficient and qualified U.S. workers available to perform temporary nonagriculture labor to satisfy the needs of American businesses in fiscal year 2018. The 15,000 visas will help many industries with labor shortages, including the landscape industry.

Secretary Nielsen announced the additional visas after consulting with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, members of Congress and business owners.

“We’re happy that some relief is being offered by the administration and that the Department of Homeland Security recognizes the serious labor shortage that is being experienced by landscape contractors and other seasonal business owners,” said Paul Mendelsohn, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP). “That said, we are disappointed that they did not recognize in our view the full extent of the labor crisis. We’re already hearing from (NALP) members who have contracts canceled and lost longtime employees, and who are working in the field themselves 80 hours a week to make ends meet. Our fear is that 15,000 will be far short of what is actually needed to make these businesses whole once again.”

Congress set the annual H-2B visa cap at 66,000, with a maximum of 33,000 H-2B visas available during the first half of the fiscal year, and the remainder, including any unused H-2B visas from the first half of that fiscal year, available starting April 1 through Sept. 30.

On Feb. 27, 2018, USCIS determined it had received sufficient H-2B petitions to meet the full fiscal year 2018 statutory cap of 66,000.

This month, once DHS determined the lack of qualified workers, Congress delegated its authority to the Secretary in the fiscal year 2018 Omnibus to increase the number of temporary nonagricultural worker visas available to U.S. employers through Sept. 30, as it did in the fiscal year 2017 Omnibus.

Eligible petitioners for H-2B visas can now file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker. Eligible petitioners must submit a supplemental attestation on Form ETA 9142-B-CAA-2 with their petition.

Details on eligibility and filing requirements will be available on the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services website.

 

Additional reporting by Abby Hart.

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