DHS and DOL Issue a Joint Rule to Supplement the H-2B Visa Cap

On Friday, May 21, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) published a joint temporary final rule to make an additional 22,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural guest worker visas available for FY2021. 6,000 of the 22,000 visas are reserved for nationals of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. From May 25, eligible employers who have completed a test of the U.S. labor market to verify that there are no U.S. workers who are willing, qualified, and able to perform the seasonal nonagricultural work can file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, to seek additional H-2B workers.

DHS first announced the supplemental increase in late April. 

What the Impacts of the Final Rule?

  • 16,000 visas are available only to returning H-2B workers from one of the last three fiscal years (FY 2018, 2019, or 2020)
  • 6,000 visas are available to nationals of Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. These individuals are exempt from the returning worker requirement.

“For the first time, we are setting aside supplemental visas for noncitizens from Northern Triangle countries, in furtherance of President Biden’s and Vice President Harris’ direction to expand legal pathways for protection and opportunity for individuals from those countries, ” said Alejandro N. Mayorkas, DHS Secretary.

According to USCIS Acting Director Tracy L. Renaud, “This rule incorporates several key provisions to ensure adequate safeguards for U.S. workers and H-2B workers. The rule requires that employers take additional steps to recruit U.S. workers, and provides for “portability,” which allows H-2B workers already in the United States to begin employment with a new H-2B employer or agent once USCIS receives a timely filed, non-frivolous H-2B petition, but before the petition is approved. Portability enables H-2B workers to change employers more quickly if they encounter unsafe or abusive working conditions. DHS and DOL will also conduct a significant number of post-adjudication reviews to ensure compliance with the program’s requirements.”

Additional details on eligibility and filing requirements are available in the temporary final rule and the Temporary Increase in H-2B Nonimmigrant Visas for FY 2021 webpage.

Erickson Immigration Group will continue to send updates as more news is available. If you have questions about anything we’re reporting above or case-specific questions, please contact your employer or EIG attorney.