If you have a loved one who is seeking to come to the U.S. on an H-2B nonimmigrant visa, there’s good news from the federal government. Nearly 65,000 visas, also known as “temporary nonagricultural worker” visas will be available in addition to the current maximum of 66,000 visas for fiscal year (FY) 2024, which runs through the end of September of next year.
These additional (“supplemental”) visas are being made available to help address the shortage of workers in these industries where there aren’t enough U.S. citizens to fill the jobs. H-2 visas allow people from other countries (“foreign nationals”) to live and work legally in the U.S. on a seasonal or other temporary basis. H-2A visas are for seasonal agricultural workers. H-2B visas are typically granted to those who work in landscaping and hospitality.
Those who obtain an H-2B visa can remain in the U.S. for up to three years. After that, they are required to leave the U.S. for three consecutive months before applying to return on an H-2B visa.
Further protections for H-2 visa holders added
Along with the additional visas, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), under the direction of the White House, are working on regulations to strengthen protections for all H-2 visa holders. This includes making it more difficult for unscrupulous employers to take advantage of workers by illegally charging them fees and strengthening whistleblower protections. Further, employers must be able to show that they’ve tried to fulfill their employment needs with U.S. workers before they can legally hire H-2 visa workers.
Special allocation for those from Central America
The additional H-2B visas include 20,000 that will go only to workers from countries in Central America, including Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala and Honduras. The intention is to provide lawful means of immigration for those who are trying to seek a better life than they can have in their home countries.
The news release by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), which is part of DHS, announcing the supplemental visas said in part, “DHS and DOL are committed to protecting all H-2B workers from exploitation and abuse….”
If you have questions or concerns about how to obtain an H-2 visa or about visa holders rights, getting experienced legal guidance can help.