In a significant development for U.S. businesses and the immigration landscape, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in collaboration with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Labor (DOL), has released a temporary final rule unveiling an extra 64,716 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for fiscal year (FY) 2024. This allocation is in addition to the established statutory cap of 66,000 H-2B visas annually.

Meeting Industry Demands:

Industries such as hospitality, tourism, landscaping, and seafood processing heavily rely on the H-2B program to fulfill consumer demand. The supplemental visa allocation addresses shortages in areas where the available U.S. workforce is insufficient, contributing to the growth of the American economy. Moreover, this move aligns with the Biden Administration’s commitment to expanding lawful pathways as an alternative to irregular migration, as outlined in the Los Angeles Declaration for Migration and Protection.

Early Availability for Planning:

By releasing these supplemental visas at the beginning of FY 2024, the DHS and DOL aim to assist U.S. businesses in planning ahead and securing the seasonal and temporary workforce they require. Simultaneously, robust protections for both U.S. and foreign workers are reinforced. Employers are mandated to prioritize the recruitment of American workers for available positions, and measures are in place to safeguard foreign workers from unscrupulous employers.

Ongoing Commitment to Worker Protections:

Recent proposals by both DHS and DOL seek to enhance worker protections in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs. The White House-led H-2B Worker Protection Taskforce has also released a report detailing new actions to strengthen safeguards for vulnerable H-2B workers and similarly situated U.S. workers.

Country-Specific Allocations:

The H-2B supplemental includes a specific allocation of 20,000 visas for workers from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, and Honduras. This aligns with the Biden-Harris Administration’s broader efforts to establish a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system.

Allocations for Returning Workers:

In addition to the country-specific allocation, 44,716 supplemental visas are earmarked for returning workers who received H-2B visas or held H-2B status in the last three fiscal years. The allocation is divided between the first and second halves of FY 2024, addressing the varying demand for seasonal and temporary workers throughout the year.

Visa Allocations Breakdown:

The supplemental H-2B visas are divided into specific allocations for the first and second halves of FY 2024, taking into account the urgency of employment needs during different periods.

Worker Recruitment Process and Stay Limitations:

The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire noncitizens for nonagricultural labor or services in the United States. Employers must follow a series of steps to test the U.S. labor market and obtain certification from the DOL. The maximum period of stay in H-2B classification is three years.

Commitment to Worker Protection:

DHS and DOL are committed to protecting all H-2B workers from exploitation and abuse. The temporary final rule implementing this allocation includes provisions to protect both U.S. and H-2B workers.

Filing Information:

Petitions requesting supplemental allocations under this rule must be filed at the USCIS Texas Service Center. It’s essential to note that petitions filed elsewhere will be rejected, and filing fees will be returned.

The announcement of additional H-2B visas for FY 2024 brings positive news for U.S. businesses and underscores the commitment to balancing workforce needs with strong worker protections. Garvish Immigration Law Group is poised to assist clients in navigating these developments and ensuring a smooth process for accessing the supplemental H-2B visas.

Read the official Press Release from the Department of Homeland Security.

About the Author

Alexandra Sarrine
Senior Counsel at Garvish Immigration Law Group | (800)951-4980 | | Profile | + posts

Alexandra Vasquez Sarrine is Senior Counsel at Garvish Immigration Law Group, LLC in Atlanta, Georgia. She has been practicing immigration law since 2012. Prior to joining Garvish Immigration Law Group, Alexandra worked at another Atlanta-based immigration law firm, focusing her practice on family-based immigration and removal defense. Now, Alexandra focuses her practice on employment-based immigration, assisting businesses obtain nonimmigrant and immigrant visas for their employees, as well as family-based immigration including waivers.