Immigration Law

Significant Expansion of H-2B Visas in FY 2024: A Turning Point for Employers and Foreign Workers

By December 1, 2023No Comments

November 17, 2023

In a landmark decision, the U.S. Departments of Labor and Homeland Security (DHS) have published a temporary final rule (TFR) that marks a significant increase in the availability of H-2B nonimmigrant visas for Fiscal Year 2024. This development is set to have a profound impact on both U.S. employers and foreign workers, particularly those from specific Central American and South American countries.

Understanding the H-2B Visa Increase

The TFR authorizes the issuance of up to 64,716 additional H-2B visas, significantly expanding the capacity for U.S. employers to hire foreign nonagricultural workers. This increase is tailored to assist employers who are experiencing or are at risk of irreparable harm due to the unavailability of needed workers. Importantly, the rule allocates up to 44,716 visas for H-2B returning workers, while reserving up to 20,000 visas for nationals of Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Haiti, Colombia, Ecuador, or Costa Rica.

Enhanced Protections and Flexibility

This new rule not only increases visa numbers but also introduces additional safeguards for U.S. workers and greater flexibility for H-2B visa holders. For instance, the TFR includes requirements for employers to engage in extra recruitment efforts for U.S. workers, particularly when the certified start date is 30 or more days prior to the submission of their visa petition to USCIS.

Moreover, the TFR grants portability flexibility to H-2B workers, allowing them to change employers more easily. This is a significant step towards ensuring that foreign workers are not tied to one employer and can seek better opportunities as needed.

Key Deadlines and Procedures

Employers seeking to take advantage of this cap increase must adhere to specific requirements and deadlines. The DHS will not accept any H-2B petitions related to the FY 2024 supplemental numerical allocations after September 16, 2024, and approvals will cease after September 30, 2024. Employers must also submit an attestation to USCIS, alongside Form I-129, affirming the necessity of employing the requested number of H-2B workers.

Navigating the New Landscape

As these changes come into effect, it’s essential for employers and potential H-2B visa applicants to understand the complexities of the application process and the new requirements. For guidance and assistance in navigating this updated landscape, legal expertise can be invaluable.

For personalized assistance and detailed information, reach out to Sandra Gomez at Gomez Law, PLLC. With expertise in immigration law and a deep understanding of the H-2B visa process, Gomez Law, PLLC can provide the necessary guidance to successfully navigate these new changes.