The H-2B visa allows U.S. employers to hire seasonal workers temporarily to fill nonagricultural positions in the U.S. Congress typically limits H-2B visas at 66,000 per fiscal year. These temporary visas are particularly common in industries such as landscaping. As with all visa applications during the Trump era, preparation is key.
The filing process for H-2B visas requires submitting a labor certification application with the U.S. Department of Labor (“DOL”). However, before an employer can file an H-2B application, employers must first request a prevailing wage determination from the DOL to verify if the proposed salary is appropriate for the location and type of work.
In addition, the employer must also conduct recruitment efforts to try to find U.S. workers and establish the position is temporary. Provided no U.S. workers are identified as willing to take on the job, the employer can then file the initial DOL application. After DOL certifies the initial application, employers are then required to file an application with the Immigration Service (“USCIS”). Once the USCIS application is approved, the worker may then apply for the visa.
As indicated above, Congress has historically set the maximum total number of H-2B visas to 66,000 per fiscal year. However, due to high demand during the second half of the 2019 fiscal year, Congress provided discretionary authority to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to allow up to an additional 30,000 H-2B visas for that period.
The H-2B visa program enjoys bipartisan support, and if Congress’ increase in 2019 is any indication, we should continue to see increases in the maximum allocated visa numbers. Alternatively, due to record U.S. unemployment and the sheer popularity of the H-2B program, hopefully Congress will enact a more permanent solution such as removing the 66,000 nationwide visa cap altogether.
Should you have any additional questions about the H-2B program, or any other immigration related matters, please contact immigration attorney Alex Farris.
Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C.
100 North Tampa Street, Suite 3600, Tampa, FL 33602
This guest column comes from Alex Farris of Ogletree Deakins, a law firm based in Tampa, Florida. Ogletree Deakins offers a free “hotline” to FNGLA members for employment law & HR information such as wage & hour, OSHA, I-9 issues and Workers’ Compensation retaliation claims. The law firm of Ogletree Deakins will answer simple questions at no cost and, should research be required, will honor a special FNGLA-member rate. View more information here.