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May 6, 2019
Feds Plan to Accept Petitions for 30,000 “Supplemental” H-2B Visas Beginning Wednesday, May 8
The American Horse Council (AHC) has received advance notice of the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) planned, formal announcement on May 8 to issue 30,000 “surplus” H-2B visas for Fiscal Year (FY) 2019. As you recall, the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2019 passed in mid-February authorized federal regulators to effectively double the number of H-2B visas awarded during a given year, which immigration statutes currently cap at 66,000. In late March, DHS released a notice announcing its intent to release 30,000 H-2B visas above the statutory cap, subject to conditions to be included in an upcoming rule from the agency. Finally, on Wednesday, May 8, DHS is expected to formally publish its final rule in the Federal Register. Please see a copy of the below notice distributed to select congressional offices outlining the agency’s next steps:
Starting on the expected date of May 8, 2019, eligible petitioners seeking additional H-2B workers can file Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, and must submit a supplemental attestation on Form ETA 9142-B-CAA-3 with their petition. Details on eligibility and filing requirements are available in the final rule and on the Increase in H-2B Nonimmigrant Visas for FY 2019 at USCIS.gov. Note that the rule is expected to be published and effective on May 8, 2019. USCIS will begin accepting petitions after the rule is published.
Below is an excerpt from a formal announcement expected from DHS and the Department of Labor (DOL) regarding the work permits. Please note that the supplemental visas are restricted to returning workers:Today, Acting Secretary of Homeland Security Kevin K. McAleenan announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Labor will publish a joint rule making available an additional 30,000 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for Fiscal Year 2019. These supplemental H-2B visas are available only to returning workers who received an H-2B visa, or were otherwise granted H-2B status, during one of the last three fiscal years (FY 2016, 2017, or 2018), and availability is restricted by prioritizing only those businesses who would suffer irreparable harm without the additional workers.
DHS then pivots to their ongoing pitch to congress to address worker shortage issues through more comprehensive immigration reform:
The DHS continues to urge lawmakers to pursue a long-term legislative fix that both meets employers’ temporary needs while fulfilling the president’s Buy American and Hire American executive order to spur higher wages and employment rates for U.S. workers …. The truth is that Congress is in the best position to establish the appropriate number of H-2B visas that American businesses should be allocated without harming U.S. workers. Therefore, Congress – not DHS – should be responsible for determining whether the annual numerical limitations for H-2B workers set by Congress need to be modified and by how much, and for setting parameters to ensure that enough workers are available to meet employers’ temporary needs throughout the year.
To view a “pre-publication” version of the final rule, please see the following link: https://s3.amazonaws.com/public-inspection.federalregister.gov/2019-09500.pdf. As details unfold related to practical considerations emerging from the final rule, AHC will share information that members might find helpful in moving forward with supplemental work permit petitions.
As a reminder, AHC will be conducting a panel discussion featuring congressional leaders on labor issues on Tuesday, June 11, in Washington, D.C., as part of the association’s annual meeting. To learn more about guest worker visas and broader immigration policy developments, please contact AHC’s Bryan Brendle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-296-4031.