The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) says it expects to make an additional 64,716 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas available in FY-2024, on top of the congressionally mandated 66,000 H-2B visas available each fiscal year.
U.S. businesses in industries such as hospitality and tourism, landscaping, seafood processing, and more turn to seasonal or other temporary workers in the H-2B program to help address the need for seasonal or other temporary workers in areas where too few U.S. workers are available. In New Jersey, seasonal employers have long been frustrated by difficulties encountered obtaining temporary foreign worker visas for seasonal jobs that remain unfilled.
The 64,716 additional H-2B visas for FY24 represent the maximum permitted under the September 2023 Fiscal Year 2024 Continuing Resolution, DHS said.
By announcing plans to make these supplemental visas available at the outset of FY 2024, the DHS and the Department of Labor want to ensure U.S. businesses with workforce needs are able to plan ahead and find the seasonal and other temporary workers they need. At the same time, DHS and DOL said they have put in place robust protections for U.S. and foreign workers alike, by ensuring that employers first seek out and recruit American workers for the jobs to be filled, as the visa program requires, and that the foreign workers hired are not exploited.
“The Department of Homeland Security is committed to maintaining strong economic growth and meeting the labor demand in the United States, while strengthening worker protections for U.S. and foreign workers,” Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said.
“We are using the tools that we have available to bolster the resiliency of our industries and release the maximum number of additional H-2B visas for U.S. businesses to ensure they can plan for their peak season labor needs,” Mayorkas said in a statement announcing the supplmental visas on Nov. 3. “Our maximum use of the H-2B visa program also continues to build on our commitment to expand lawful pathways as an alternative to irregular migration, thereby cutting out the ruthless smugglers who prey on the vulnerable.”
The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire noncitizens to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the United States. The employment must be of a temporary nature, such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal need, or intermittent need.
Employers seeking H-2B workers must take a series of steps to test the U.S. labor market. They must obtain certification from DOL that there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to perform the temporary work for which they seek a prospective foreign worker, and that employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
The maximum period of stay in H-2B classification is three years. A person who has held H-2B nonimmigrant status for a total of three years must depart and remain outside of the United States for an uninterrupted period of three months before seeking readmission as an H-2B nonimmigrant.