Department of Homeland Security will Approve Extra Migrant Visas by Douglas Conley
The H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Worker program serves a conglomeration of industries who need seasonal workers. This includes hospitality, landscaping, construction, and demolition.
Mostly any company with a temporary need, ranging from a few weeks to nine months, can qualify.
The visas are non-immigration. Workers have to return home at the end of the job.
The only exception is if they are offered and receive another position from a different qualified company.
The Department of Homeland Security is approving 22,000 more H-2B visas this year to help companies who can not hire American workers.
Despite a 14.7% unemployment rate in 2020, the DHS received nearly 100,000 migrant worker requests by mid-March. The program typically caps out at 66,000 over the course of an entire fiscal year.
The increase is a response to the high number of requests.
The the process for applying for H2-B workers is typically published on the federal register. Rules can change as demand is high.
What we can count on though — it will be an expensive, cumbersome process.
I don’t know any employers who would even touch this program if they could hire and retain enough local labor.
There is a lot of fine print, a lot of hard paperwork, and there will be many government agencies examining business owners who apply.
Businesses applying for the extra visas may even have to meet additional requirements. There could also be more requirements for workers rights regulations.
We need to do a better job at educating people of the real purpose of this program: protecting U.S. worker’s rights. It is not the cheap labor program that many people see.
Just to apply, employers must prove that they exhausted efforts to recruit and hire American employees. They must also prove their need for temporary or seasonal labor.
They also must ensure that foreign workers will positively affect the pay and working conditions of American employees on the team.
That is the point of the whole program. To give American employers and employees extra support during tough times.
Migrant workers help keep businesses afloat so companies can grow, expand, and eventually manage the demands independently.
There are too many reports of fraud painting a bad picture, and keeping law abiding employers from accessing a legal workforce. The programs can be a good thing when properly managed and the rules are enforced.
The program is a fallback option, but business owners should do anything possible to attract and retain local workers.
A good labor force is one of your biggest assets if you can keep them, counsel them, support them, and help them grow.
If you can’t, then consider the program.
Douglas Conley is the Chief Compliance Officer for Action Visas Assistance in Plano, Texas.
He serves as an agent for H2-A and H2-B program employers, helping qualifying employers apply for and process employees.
Douglas also processes permanent residency and DACA applications.