To thwart irreparable harm suffered by American businesses, Trump Administration officials allowed for a one-time increase of 15,000 H-2B visas. With the September 15 end-date of the program, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) no longer accepts temporary nonagricultural work petitions from U.S. employers.
The increase, authorized under the now former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Gen. John Kelly, came after the general’s consultation with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta. Based on a the determination that a dearth of U.S. workers qualified and willing to work in American businesses, the allowance of the additional visas went to “American businesses that could establish they would likely suffer irreparable harm if they could not hire all the H-2B visas requested in their FY 2017 petitions,” according to a USCIS release.
“Following the filing deadline guidance included in July’s final rule, In its commitment to protect U.S. workers, USCIS required petitioning employers to attest, under penalty of perjury, that their business would likely suffer irreparable harm if they could not hire all their requested H-2B workers before the end of the fiscal year,” according to the announcement. “Some employers were also required to conduct a fresh round of recruitment efforts for U.S. workers before being allowed to petition for additional foreign workers.”
Congress’ delegation of H-2B visas to General Kelly in May marked the first time Congress entrusted DHS with the reigns around visa numbers. With the close of the petition period on September 15, USCIS tabulated a total request volume of 13,534 workers.
Based on the guidance provided in the July final rule, the agency is rejecting any FY 2017 H-2B cap-subject petitions received after Sept. 15. Submitted petitions USCIS doesn’t approve before October 1 will be denied, and the agency won’t refund any associated fees.
The agency continues to accept FY 2017 H-2B petitions for workers who are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. Additional supplemental FY 2017 H-2B visa use and information, including information about the petitioning employers, is available on the One-Time Increase in H-2B Nonimmigrant Visas for FY 2017 web page.