Big changes are coming to the H-2B temporary non-agricultural worker visa program. Two U.S. government agencies are poised to roll out the welcome mat to thousands of international temporary workers in 2022. Therefore, employers in New Jersey and other U.S. states needing more workers can get assistance using this visa.
It’s an employee’s market
The need for workers has greatly outstripped the supply. Both the DHS and DOL are removing the limits imposed on the H-2B visa program and are enlarging it by 20,000 additional visas for 2022. This is a historical move as this is the first time that the government is growing the number of H-2B visas in the first half of any fiscal year.
The H-2B program allows employers to hire non-citizens to work non-agricultural in the United States on a temporary basis. Often, these positions are connected to the fishing and hospitality industries and are needed on a seasonal basis. Employers are scrutinized and must account for their search for American workers. They have to certify that there is a dearth of American workers who qualify for the positions they seek to fill and that their hiring activity regarding H-2B workers won’t negatively impact the employment terms for their American employees.
Carving a path for the future
The visas have already been claimed, mostly by returning workers. Approximately 13,500 have been granted to returning workers while 6,500 have been reserved for Haitians, Hondurans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans, who were previously exempt from the H-2B caps. If the numbers tell a story, they attest to the growth of the U.S. economy and the need to fill those jobs from an additional pool of workers.
There is already talk of making the H-2B visa program continually relevant to the employment needs of U.S. companies while simultaneously protecting the rights of American job seekers and the H2-B visa holders. Efforts will also be taken to ensure that non-citizens are not exploited. Thus, this program is seen by many as a win-win for the American economy and international workers.