US increases H-2b visa allocation

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has announced additional H-2B visas for foreign workers to assist American businesses.

Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen recently announced that an additional 15,000 H-2B temporary non-agricultural worker visas will be available for the 2018 Fiscal Year.

The secretary explained that there are not currently sufficient US workers available to perform temporary non-agriculture labour to satisfy the needs of American businesses. The increased allocation is in addition to the 66,000 visas already issued this year.

The decision was made following consultations between Secretary Nielsen, Secretary of Labour Alexander Acosta, members of Congress, and business owners.

Secretary Nielsen made clear his belief that more needs to be done to make H-2B visas more readily accessible for foreign workers.

“The limitations on H-2B visas were originally meant to protect American workers, but when we enter a situation where the program unintentionally harms American businesses it needs to be reformed,” she explained. “I call on Congress to pass much needed reforms of the program and to expressly set the number of H-2B visas in statute.”

The H-2B visa program was designed to serve US businesses unable to find a sufficient number of qualified US workers to perform non-agricultural work of a temporary nature. Congress set the annual H-2B visa cap at 66,000. A maximum of 33,000 H-2B visas are available during the first half of the fiscal year, and the remainder, including any unused H-2B visas from the first half of that fiscal year, in the last six months.

This year USCIS determined that it had received sufficient H-2B petitions to meet the full FY 2018 statutory cap on 27th February.

The 15,000 additional visas are available with immediate effect.

Article published 30th May 2018