U.S. to issue 15,000 additional H-2B visas for fiscal year 2018

U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today that it will authorize the issuance of an additional 15,000 H-2B visas for fiscal year 2018. to prevent U.S. companies from suffering "irreparable harm" because they have been unable to secure temporary foreign workers.

The annual cap of 66,000 H-2B visas was exhausted in February of this year, but due to the high demand for labor and the shortage of qualified employees in the United States to fill available temporary positions, U.S. businesses asked the U.S. Congress to allow more foreign workers to enter the United States to meet their labor needs.

The Congress passed a law in March 2018 that gave DHS Secretary Kirstjen M. Nielsen authority to increase the number of H-2B visas available to U.S. employers through September 30, 2018. After consulting with U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, members of the U.S. Congress and business owners, Nielsen determined it was necessary to allow additional hiring of foreign workers.

A similar situation occurred during fiscal year 2017. Due to the need for labor and an insufficient number of visas for temporary foreign workers, Secretary Nielsen urged Congress to reform the H-2B visa program and determine the number of H-2B visas to be issued in the future.

U.S. companies use the H-2B visa to bring foreign workers to the U.S. to work seasonally in hotels, fishing, spas, and landscaping, among other service industries.

Process for filing H-2B visa applications

The final rule to allow for the issuance of an additional 15,000 H-2B visas will be published on May 31, 2018, in the Federal Register. The increase will be carried out only once in fiscal year 2018 and does not affect the H-2B program in future fiscal years.

Eligible businesses must declare, under penalty of perjury, that they will likely suffer "irreparable harm" (i.e., permanent and severe financial loss) if they are unable to hire H-2B nonimmigrant workers during fiscal year 2018.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin accepting additional H-2B visa petitions on May 31, 2018 whose employment start dates are through September 30, 2018.

Petitions will be evaluated in the order they are received and until visas are exhausted.

You can read details about eligibility and filing requirements and how to report program abuses on the USCIS website. Temporary Non-Farm Workers (H-2B).