Immigration @ Work

H-2B Visa Cap Increases by 30,000

By Marylou V. Fabbo

The Department of Homeland Security has announced that it plans to issue up to an additional 30,0000 H-2B visas through September 20, 2019-the current cap is 66,000. 

The H-2B visa nonimmigrant program permits employers to hire foreign workers to perform temporary, nonagricultural services or labor in seasonal, peak load or on an intermittent basis. The visas provide legal status for immigrants in temporary jobs with employers such as landscaping companies, restaurants (chefs, wait staff, dishwashers), hotels (housekeeping and hotel staff), fish and meat processing, and amusement parks. 

Visas above and beyond the cap are often issued when employers struggle to find enough qualified U.S. workers to fill all of their open positions.  The new visas will be granted to applicants who have held H-2B status in at least one of the past three fiscal years. This is double the 15,000 of H-2B additional visas, above the annual cap, issued in the last few fiscal years.  Most of the H-2B workers have been from Mexico and up to 80% have held positions in the landscaping and grounds keeping industries.  H-2B visas are divided equally between the October 1 through March 31 and April 1 through September 30 of each fiscal year.

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