This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Loan Huynh, Fredrikson Immigration Department Chair, is a member.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of Labor (DOL), plans to issue a regulation to make available to employers an additional 64,716 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for fiscal year 2023, on top of the 66,000 H-2B visas that are normally available each fiscal year.
The H-2B supplemental includes an allocation of 20,000 visas for workers from Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador. The remaining 44,716 supplemental visas will be available for returning workers who received an H-2B visa, or were otherwise granted H-2B status, during one of the last three fiscal years. DHS said the regulation will allocate these remaining supplemental visas for returning workers between the first half and second half of the fiscal year to account for the need for additional seasonal workers, with a portion of the second half allocation reserved to meet the demand for workers during the peak summer season.
DHS and DOL also announced the creation of a new White House-convened Worker Protection Taskforce. DHS explained that the Taskforce will focus on: (1) threats to H-2B program integrity; (2) H-2B workers’ fundamental vulnerabilities, including their limited ability to leave abusive employment without jeopardizing their immigration status; and (3) the impermissible use of the program to avoid hiring U.S. workers. DHS and DOL will assess a variety of policy options and will provide an opportunity for relevant stakeholders to offer input. In the coming months, DHS also plans to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking relating to the H-2 programs. The proposed rule will incorporate policies that strengthen protections for H-2 workers, the agency said.