The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in consultation with the Department of Labor (DOL), has announced plans to make an additional 64,716 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas available for Fiscal Year (FY) 2024. This is in addition to the congressionally mandated 66,000 H-2B visas available each fiscal year. These extra visas are the maximum allowed under the September 2023 Fiscal Year 2024 Continuing Resolution.
These additional visas are crucial for American businesses in industries such as hospitality, tourism, landscaping, and seafood processing, where seasonal or temporary workers are often needed to meet consumer demand. This move will help address the need for such workers in areas where there are insufficient U.S. workers available, contributing to the American economy. It also aligns with the Biden Administration's commitment to expand lawful pathways for immigration as an alternative to irregular migration, promoting safe and orderly immigration.
By announcing these supplemental visas at the start of FY 2024, the Departments aim to enable U.S. businesses to plan ahead and meet their seasonal labor needs. Stringent protections for both U.S. and foreign workers have been put in place, including requirements for employers to first seek and recruit American workers for available jobs, as mandated by the visa program. Moreover, efforts to strengthen worker protections in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs have been initiated.
The allocation of the supplemental visas is expected to include 20,000 visas for workers from several countries, with the aim of building a more humane immigration system. Additionally, 44,716 supplemental visas will be available for returning workers who had an H-2B visa or status in the last three fiscal years. The goal is to meet the demand for seasonal and temporary workers throughout the year, including during the peak summer season.
The H-2B program permits employers to temporarily hire noncitizens for nonagricultural labor or services in the United States, provided the employment is of a temporary nature. Employers must follow a series of steps to test the U.S. labor market before hiring H-2B workers. DHS and DOL are committed to protecting the rights of H-2B workers and ensuring that employers do not discriminate against qualified U.S. workers.
For more details on the H-2B program safeguards, eligibility criteria, and filing requirements, you can refer to the forthcoming temporary final rule when published and the USCIS webpage.