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.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on July 23, 2021, that employers may file H-2B petitions for returning workers under the fiscal year (FY) 2021 H-2B supplemental visa temporary final rule. “Employers may take this action if they are likely to suffer irreparable harm without these additional workers,” USCIS said. Petitions will be accepted until September 15, 2021, or until the remainder of the cap is reached, whichever occurs first.
The agency noted that a petitioner must file a new Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, together with an approved and valid temporary labor certification that states an employment start date for the second half of the fiscal year, and attest that these noncitizens will be returning workers. USCIS defines returning workers as “workers who were issued an H-2B visa or otherwise granted H-2B status in FY 2018, 2019, or 2020.”
USCIS received requests for an unspecified “significant number” of Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras) workers, “nearly enough to reach the 6,000 allocation,” but did not receive enough petitions by the July 8, 2021, deadline. According to the temporary final rule, “the few remaining visas are now available to eligible H-2B returning workers, regardless of their country of origin.”