“DHS Grants Additional 15,000 H-2B Visas”


“Summer seasonal employers will have access to 15,000 additional H-2B visas for temporary guest workers through the remainder of the fiscal year (FY) that ends Sept. 30.

“The Department of Homeland Security…announced July 17 a one-time, 45 percent increase in H-2B visas over the 33,000 visas normally issued for the second half of the fiscal year.

“The visas will not be limited by industry, geographic location or type of employer, but petitioners must attest, under penalty of perjury, that their business is likely to suffer ‘irreparable harm’ without access to the guest workers and comply with certification and recruitment requirements.

“DHS spokesman David Lapan said that irreparable harm is being defined as ‘permanent and severe financial loss.’

“…Lapan said that USCIS may request evidence supporting irreparable harm, and employers will be required to retain evidence supporting those claims for a three-year period. Employers must also have a valid, unexpired labor certification from the Department of Labor indicating that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the positions.

“The attestation showing irreparable harm could be difficult for some employers…

“…DHS outlined that evidence may include, among other things:

  • “Contracts, reservations, orders or other business arrangements that have been or would be cancelled without the requested H-2B workers.

  • “Financial statements, bank statements, tax returns or other documents showing evidence of current and past financial conditions.

  • “Employment records, or other similar documents showing hours worked and payroll comparisons from prior years to current year.

“…The H-2B visa program was created to serve U.S. businesses unable to find sufficient numbers of qualified U.S. workers to perform temporary, low-skilled, nonagricultural work…Congress has set the H-2B visa cap at 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 visas granted for workers who begin employment in the first half of the 12-month period…and 33,000 visas for workers who begin employment in the second half…

“…All 66,000 H-2B visas for FY 2017 were issued by March 16, the earliest date that the cap was reached since FY 2009, reflecting an ongoing trend of high demand. In May, Congress gave the DHS authority to increase H-2B visas up to 70,000 through the end of the fiscal year.

“…Industries that count on the visas voiced tempered approval for the announcement, pointing out that the increase is likely too late, with spring and half of summer already past. The soonest that employers could receive approved petitions would be early August, and they would still need to contract with workers abroad and bring them into the U.S.”

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