USCIS Opens Additional H-2B Visas

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in collaboration with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Department of Labor (DOL), has introduced a temporary final rule announcing the availability of an additional 64,716 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for fiscal year (FY) 2024. This is in addition to the statutory cap of 66,000 H-2B visas available annually. Industries like hospitality, tourism, landscaping, and seafood processing often rely on the H-2B program for seasonal and temporary workers to meet consumer demands.

The supplemental visa allocation addresses the need for these workers in areas with insufficient U.S. workers and supports the American economy. By making these visas available early in FY 2024, businesses can plan for their workforce needs. The move aligns with the Biden Administration's commitment, as per the Los Angeles Declaration for Migration and Protection, to expand lawful pathways and curb irregular migration.

To reinforce protections for both U.S. and foreign workers, the rule ensures employers prioritize recruiting American workers first and provides safeguards for foreign workers against exploitative practices. DHS and DOL have proposed regulations to enhance worker protections in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs, while the White House-led H-2B Worker Protection Taskforce has outlined additional measures to strengthen safeguards for vulnerable H-2B and similar U.S. workers.

The H-2B supplemental includes an allocation of 20,000 visas for workers from specific countries. This allocation supports the administration's efforts to create a secure and humane immigration system. Additionally, 44,716 supplemental visas are available to returning workers, distributed between the first and second halves of the fiscal year. The semiannual cap of 33,000 H-2B visas for the first half of FY 2024 was reached on October 11, 2023

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