DHS increases number of H2-B visas and announces measures to combat fraud

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Thursday, March 5, 2020 that, to protect the integrity of the H-2B visa program, it will take steps to combat abuse and fraud.

It also stipulated that it will make available an additional 35,000 more H-2B temporary visas for non-agricultural workers for the second half of fiscal year 2020. The allocation of these additional visas includes new conditions to protect authorized workers in the United States, provide relief to temporary employers in need, reduce fraud and abuse of the program, and complement DHS border security initiatives.

DHS announced the increase in H-2B visas a week after the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the increase in the number of H-2B visas. will announce the termination of H-2B visas for fiscal year 2020..

Opportunities for Central Americans

The program will provide an opportunity for citizens of Central American partner countries to work legally in the United States.

Of the additional H-2B visas to be issued, 10,000 are specifically designated for citizens of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras to support the efforts of those countries working with the United States to stem the flow of illegal immigration and encourage legal immigration to this country.

New Measures

Until Congress makes long-term reforms to the program, the program's DHS says it will implement the following measures:

  • Require that the start dates of an H-2B petition match the start date you need from the employer
  • Collaborate with the Department of Labor to increase the number of visits to employment sites.
  • Generally limit supplemental visas to returning workers who are known to be in good faith compliance with immigration law.

Before authorizing the supplemental allocation of these visas for the second half of fiscal year 2020, DHS consulted with members of Congress, the U.S. Department of Labor and other stakeholders. The initiative seeks to assist U.S. businesses in need of temporary H-2B workers while protecting authorized workers in the United States.

The supplemental visas will be available in two batches to prevent a small group of employers from using all of the visas. The distribution will be as follows:

  • 20,000 for start dates on or after April 1, 2020
  • 15,000 for start dates on or after May 15, 2020

DHS will publish a future Temporary Final Rule that will provide more details on the FY 2020 H-2B allocation.

Resources to combat fraud and protect immigrant workers

DHS reiterated its commitment to investigate and combat immigration fraud in the H-2B visa program to protect authorized workers in the United States.

The federal government urged the public to report immigration fraud on the website USCIS Government Form and include as much information as possible to identify individuals abusing the H-2B visa program.

He also asked for the public's help to to file complaints of fraud and abuse by immigrant employers the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor by calling 1-866-487-9243 or by visiting the web site at Dol Offices to locate the nearest office for assistance.