DHS Announces No Additional H-2B Visas to be Released
Yesterday, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on Twitter that the DHS rule expanding the H-2B cap is “on hold pending review due to present economic circumstances.” The announcement comes as a record 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment benefits in one week and shortly after the H-2B program was criticized on a conservative television program. If implemented, the rule would have allowed 35,000 additional H-2B visas to be issued, including 10,000 reserved specifically for workers from El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
With travel restrictions and many consulates and embassies operating with reduced staffing and services, employers were already concerned with workers being able to arrive in the U.S. in time to fill the expected seasonal labor needs. H-2Bs are capped at 66,000 per fiscal year, with half of the visas available on October 1 and the remaining 50 percent available on April 1. The H-2B program has been expanded in recent years to reflect the growing need for seasonal labor. Employers requested almost 100,000 workers during this year’s cap to fill the 33,000 slots remaining for the second half of the fiscal year.
DHS’s announcement does not affect the 33,000 visas that became available on April 1, but places the 35,000 additional H-2B visas authorized by the rule on hold.
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