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The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) today announced plans to issue almost 65,000 additional H-2B visas for the fiscal year 2023 (FY23)—very nearly twice the number that is normally made available each fiscal year (66,000).
The United States’ H-2B visa program permits employers to hire nonimmigrant foreign nationals to perform nonagricultural labor or services within the U.S., on a temporary basis.
The expansion of the H-2B program kicked off on October 1, which technically kicked off the new fiscal year. The 65,000 extra H-2B visas now on offer represent the DHS’ largest-ever issuance of supplemental visas.
Decided upon in consultation with the Department of Labor (DOL), the move is intended to address U.S. employers’ need for more seasonal workers, especially in light of the country’s current pan-industrial staffing shortages.
“The Department of Homeland Security is moving with unprecedented speed to meet the needs of American businesses,” Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas said in the official release. “At a time of record job growth, this full-year allocation at the very outset of the fiscal year will ensure that businesses can plan for their peak season labor needs.”
“American businesses in industries as varied as hospitality and tourism, landscaping, seafood processing, and more depend on seasonal workers to meet demand from consumers,” according to the announcement.
The supplemental regulation includes an allocation of 20,000 visas to workers from the Northern Central American countries of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador, and the Caribbean nation of Haiti. The remaining 44,716 visas will be available to returning workers who received an H-2B visa, or were otherwise granted H-2B status, during one of the past three fiscal years.
“After months of vociferous advocacy from the U.S. Travel Association, this announcement—the largest ever supplemental visa release—is a lifeline for an industry whose workforce shortage tops a million open positions,” U.S. Travel Association President and CEO Geoff Freeman said in a reaction statement issued this afternoon. “This will provide the travel industry with thousands of workers ahead of the peak travel season, allowing businesses to adequately prepare for a surge in demand.
He added, “U.S. Travel is a vocal advocate for increasing the cap of H-2B visas, and we will continue to call on Congress to pass an exemption to the cap in FY23 and enact a permanent expansion of the H-2B program.”
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