US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) will be releasing a temporary final rule for the first time that would add 64,716 more H-2B visas to the pool of available visas for the fiscal year 2023.
The H-2B visas, intended for non-skilled foreign labourers for the fiscal year 2023, will make it possible for US companies to prepare for their seasonal labour needs.
These additional H-2B visas, according to a statement from US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), are for American firms looking to petition for more workers during specific times of the fiscal year before September 15 of the following year.
A total of 44,700 more H-2B visas are made available to returning workers who were issued an H-2B visa or otherwise qualified for H-2B status during one of the previous three fiscal years.
Regardless of whether they are returning employees, the final 20,000 visas are set aside for citizens of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti.
Employers are allowed to engage foreign workers on a temporary basis to undertake non-agricultural work or services in the nation for a finite amount of time, such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal demand, a peak load need, or an intermittent need.
“The Department is making supplemental H-2B visas available earlier than ever, ensuring that American businesses can plan for their peak season labour needs,” said Alejandro N. Mayorkas, secretary of homeland security.
At a time of record job growth, Mayorkas continued, “At a time of record job growth, these visas will also provide a safe and lawful pathway to the United States for non-citizens prepared to take jobs that are not filled by American workers.”
The USCIS’s decision is unlikely to have a big impact on Indians because the majority do not choose the H-2B visa.
Indian immigrants typically do not choose H-2B visas because the bulk of them go to the US to work as highly qualified professionals in specialised fields requiring theoretical or technical skills for American employers. For such immigrants, H-1B visas are needed.
There are 18,216 instantly available visas, regardless of nationality, for the first half of fiscal 2023. These visas are only accessible to returning workers.
16,500 visas are available for the early second half of fiscal 2023 (1 April to 14 May), and 10,000 visas will be awarded for the late second half of fiscal 2023 (15 May to 30 September), according to the notification.
According to the statement, this is the first time the US has published a single rule, making H-2B supplemental visas available for various allocations throughout the entire fiscal year, including an allocation for the late second half.
The temporary final rule includes a number of safeguards against the exploitation and mistreatment of both US and H-2B workers.
To that end, DHS will scrutinise firms more closely during the supplemental cap petition process if they have engaged in specific labour law infractions in the H-2B programme.
The Departments will also take part in the White House-established H-2B Worker Protection Taskforce, which was established to address these concerns broadly and was launched in October.
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