NEW YORK: The US will begin accepting petitions for H-2B visa workers for the late second half of fiscal year 2023 under the supplemental cap temporary final rule, the federal agency for immigration services announced.
Under this rule, which was announced in December last year, there are 10,000 visas limited to returning workers regardless of country of nationality, for the late second half of fiscal year 2023, that is May 15 to September 30.
“The 10,000 visas made available under this allocation are limited to returning workers who were issued H-2B visas or held H-2B status in fiscal years 2020, 2021, or 2022,” the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) said.
These supplemental visas are available only to the US businesses that are suffering irreparable harm or will suffer impending irreparable harm without the ability to employ all the H-2B workers requested in their petition, as attested by the employer on a new attestation form.
On December 15, 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) jointly published a temporary final rule increasing the cap on H-2B non-immigrant visas by up to 64,716 additional visas for all of FY 2023.
Of the 64,716 additional visas, 44,716 are available only for returning workers (workers who received an H-2B visa or were otherwise granted H-2B status in one of the last three fiscal years).
The remaining 20,000 visas are set aside for nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (collectively called Northern Central American countries) and Haiti, who are exempt from the returning worker requirement.
As of April 10, 2023, USCIS has received petitions requesting 11,537 workers under the 20,000 visas set aside for nationals of Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. USCIS is continuing to accept H-2B petitions under this allocation.
This is the first time the Departments have issued a single rule making available H-2B supplemental visas for several allocations throughout the entire fiscal year, including an allocation for the late second half.
The temporary final rule features several provisions to protect both, the US and H-2B workers, from exploitation and abuse. The H-2B visas are issued for seasonal/temporary jobs which allow employers to hire skilled or unskilled workers to fulfil the shortage of workers in the US. The employer must obtain a Department of Labor certification before the visa application can be initiated.