The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) recently announced that US businesses in danger of suffering irreparable harm due to shortage of temporary nonagricultural workers will be able to make use of the H-2B program. They are allowed to hire up to 15,000 additional temporary nonagricultural workers under the H-2B program to bridge the shortage.
DHS Secretary John Kelly recently confirmed that there are not enough qualified and willing US workers available to perform nonagricultural work. “As a demonstration of the Administration’s commitment to supporting American businesses, DHS is providing this one-time increase to the annual cap set by Congress,” said Kelly.
The H-2B program allows U.S. employers to hire foreign non-agricultural workers to perform temporary services on a one-time, seasonal, peak load or intermittent basis. These workers are usually needed in the construction, health care, lumber, manufacturing, food service/ processing and resort/ hotel industries.
Each year the USCIS allocates 66,000 visas for the H-2B program, with 33,000 allocated for the first half of the fiscal year and 33,000 for the second half.
The H-2B process starts with the filing of a temporary labor certification for H-2B employment with the U.S. Department of Labor. When the labor certification is issued, it must be attached to the H-2B petition on Form I-129 by the petitioner and filed with the USCIS. Starting July 19, eligible petitioners for H-2B visas can file and must submit a supplemental attestation on Form ETA 9142-B-CAA with their petition.
The petitioner of an H-2B petition may be a U.S. employer or U.S. agent. However, the petitioner must show that the need is only temporary in nature. He must demonstrate that the work will terminate after a definite period of time.
Multiple beneficiaries may be included in a single H-2B petition if they will all be performing the same work for the same period in the same location.
The beneficiary of an H-2B petition may be in the United State or overseas. The H-2B petition can be filed with an unnamed beneficiary if the beneficiary is overseas and will be applying for the visa at a U.S. consular office abroad. However, if the name of the beneficiary is required to establish eligibility or that the beneficiary is not from a participating country, the beneficiary must be named in the petition.
When approved, the validity of the H-2B visa will reflect the period indicated in the labor certification. This should reflect the period of the employer’s need. Generally, the period granted is limited to one year which may be extended for another year up to a maximum of three years.
The Philippines as well as 84 other countries have been identified by the USCIS as participating countries under the H-2B program in a list that was recently released.
An H-2B petition may be approved for a beneficiary who is not from any of the participating countries only if the Secretary of Homeland Security finds that it is in the interest of the U.S. to approve the petition.