The worker shortage in the U.S. has been flooding the news cycle for months now. So it comes as no surprise that employers are reaching out to us en masse to find out when, where, and how they can recruit immigrant workers to fill the void.
If you’re scrambling to complete projects and are frustrated with the lack of willing and able workers available, you’ll be happy to know that the Biden Administration has heard your cries and taken action. The Biden Administration recently made 22,000 additional H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers visas available to employers through the end of the second half of the 2021 fiscal year.
So what are the H-2B visas, and how do employers utilize this additional allotment of them?
H-2B visas allow skilled and unskilled, non-agricultural workers from outside of the U.S. to enter the U.S. with their spouse and children if they have a job offer and employee sponsorship. It’s a common misconception that migrant workers are strictly for agriculture jobs, but these H-2B visas are used for myriad types of employment, including construction, home health, and even professional sports and entertainment.
So, why is it so difficult to fill the void of workers in the U.S.?
H-2B visas are great, and they’re incredibly helpful. In fact, they’re so good they are in too high demand. Unfortunately, there is a limit on the amount of H-2B visas available each year. 66,000 to be exact; however, that’s still not adequate to cover the number of applicants in need of these visas.
These 66,000 H-2B visas are released in two parts: 33,000 twice a year. To wrap your head around this supply and demand issue, know that there were over 95,000 applications sent for the 33,000 H-2B visas released in January 2021—that’s nearly three times the amount of H-2B visas available for just one half of the year.
There is a lottery system through which H-2B visas may be obtained, but that’s certainly no guarantee or peace of mind for the countless employers attempting to stock their workforce. The good news is that the Biden administration released 22,000 additional visas to aid in the demand, but 16,000 of those are solely allotted to workers who have previously held the H-2B visa—not very lucky for new employers and workers. Also, the remaining 6,000 extra H-2B visas allotted are strictly for workers from the Northern Triangle of countries: Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala.
The issue is that recruiting workers from that area has historically been difficult for employers here unless they personally know someone with friends or family in those countries.
Facing the Challenge of H-2B Visa
If all of this sounds like less-than-stellar news, it’s not because we want to discourage you; more so, we want to make sure you are aware of the challenges you will face with this process.
H-2B visas are not a lost cause, and we’ve helped many companies acquire H-2B visas for their migrant workers. If you need to bring in workers for the October release of H-2B visas, now is the time to get all of your paperwork and requirements in order.
Please reach out to our trusted immigration attorneys and continue to follow us on social media for the immigration and criminal defense updates that affect you.