On July 19, 2017, the US Departments of Homeland Security and Labor will publish a final rule increasing the numerical limit (“cap”) on H-2B nonimmigrant visas by up to 15,000 additional visas through the end of fiscal year (FY) 2017. Since the year ends on September 30, it may already be too late for many employers to benefit from the increase.
USCIS states that this is a one-time increase only, and does not affect the H-2B program in future years. Normally, USCIS allows for 66,000 H-2B visas to be approved every year, with 33,000 being allocated to workers starting in the first half of the year, and 33,000 for workers starting in the 2nd half.
These visas will be available only to American businesses which attest that they will likely suffer irreparable harm without the ability to employ all the H-2B workers requested in their petition.
The H-2B visa program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs. The visas are often given to people working in landscape companies, hotels (including Trump hotels.....), holiday resorts, forests, fisheries, etc. USCIS only approves H-2A and H-2B petitions for nationals of certain countries: those which Secretary of Homeland Security has designated as eligible to participate in the programs. USCIS may approve H-2B petitions for nationals of countries not on the list if it is determined to be in the interest of the United States.
H-2B shortage causes problems for hotels
Earlier H-2B blog posts
Elaine Martin has been practising US and global immigration law since 1997. She is an immigrant herself (from Ireland), so has a special understanding of the legal and emotional challenges involved in relocating to a new country.