DHS Releases 35,000 Supplemental H-2B Visas
On March 5, AmericanHort issued the following statement as the Department of Homeland Security announced the release of 35,000 supplemental H-2B visas for Fiscal Year 2020, but with additional conditions and limitations that may undermine the benefit of the visas.
“Each year, employers face untenable uncertainty as the statutory annual cap of 66,000 H-2B visas is quickly exhausted, leaving them without the seasonal labor their businesses need to survive.” said Craig Regelbrugge, AmericanHort Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Research. “While we are grateful for the supplemental visas announced today, this number falls far short of meeting the need, as demonstrated by how many jobs the Department of Labor has certified to be filled by H-2B workers.
“Around 100,000 positions were requested for the 33,000 available visas for jobs beginning on or after April 1, 2020. To address this current shortfall, AmericanHort and partners advocated for the release of 64,716 additional H-2B visas, the number of supplemental visas authorized by Congress. Initial reports suggested the administration was considering the release of an additional 45,000.”
Continued Regelbrugge, “Today’s announcement of 35,000 additional visas, while providing some relief to employers, withholds 15,000 visas until May 15 and leaves ambiguity until the full details in the implementing rule are published.
“As this year’s shortfall again demonstrates, Congress must take action to address the structural limits in the H-2B program through permanent legislative reform, and we encourage action as soon as possible.”
The H-2B visa is a non-immigrant foreign worker visa for temporary non-agricultural labor used heavily by landscaping businesses and other seasonal employers. The number of H-2B visas issued annually is subject to a statutory cap of 66,000 (divided into two allocations of 33,000 each), with the Secretary of Homeland Security authorized to issue an additional number if he determines American businesses will face irreparable harm without them. In addition to AmericanHort’s continued advocacy to encourage the release of additional visas this year, AmericanHort is a co-chair of the H-2B Workforce Coalition and working to address the statutory H-2B visa cap and provide more certainty to employers every year.