Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen M. Nielsen announced on May 25, 2018, that an additional 15,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas will be available for the Fiscal Year 2018. In this determination, Secretary Nielsen determined there are not sufficient, qualified, U.S. workers available to perform temporary non-agriculture labor to satisfy the needs of American businesses in FY18. This allocation is in addition to the 66,000 visas already issued this year. Secretary Nielsen made this decision after consulting with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, members of Congress, and business owners.
“The limitations on H-2B visas were originally meant to protect American workers, but when we enter a situation where the program unintentionally harms American businesses it needs to be reformed,” said Secretary Nielsen. “I call on Congress to pass much-needed reforms of the program and to expressly set the number of H-2B visas in the statute. We are once again in a situation where Congress has passed the buck and turned a decision over to DHS that would be better situated with Congress, who knows the needs of the program. As Secretary, I remain committed to protecting U.S. workers and strengthening the integrity of our lawful immigration system and look forward to working with Congress to do so.”
The H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker program was designed to serve U.S. businesses unable to find a sufficient number of qualified U.S. workers to perform nonagricultural work of a temporary nature. Congress set the annual H-2B visa cap at 66,000. A maximum of 33,000 H-2B visas are available during the first half of the fiscal year, and the remainder, including any unused H-2B visas from the first half of that fiscal year, is available starting April 1 through September 30.
On February 27, 2018, USCIS determined that it had received sufficient H-2B petitions to meet the full FY 2018 statutory cap of 66,000.
In the FY 2018 Omnibus, Congress delegated its authority to the Secretary to increase the number of temporary nonagricultural worker visas available to U.S. employers through September 30, just as it did in the FY 2017 Omnibus. In the intervening time since the enactment of the FY 2018 Omnibus, the Secretary consulted with the Secretary of Labor on the issue, in accordance with Congressional requirements, and developed this rule.