The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and The Department of Labor (DOL) have submitted a final rule to the Federal Register, which will be published on July 18, 2017, increasing the number of H-2B visas by 15,000. DHS Secretary John Kelly determined, along with DOL Secretary Alexander Acosta, that there are not enough qualified and willing U.S. workers available to U.S. businesses for the remainder of the fiscal year and that these businesses may suffer “irreparable harm” if they are unable to hire additional workers.
The annual cap for H-2B visas is 66,000, with half available during the first half of the fiscal year, and the remainder available during the latter half. The annual cap of 66,000 was reached on March 13, 2017, and in May 2017 Congress delegated authority to the DOL to determine whether the numbers should be increased. With the additional 15,000 visas added, employers, who can begin submitting petitions this week, will need to attest, under penalty of perjury, that their business is likely to suffer irreparable harm if it cannot employ H-2B workers for the 2017 fiscal year. This attestation will appear on the form that will be filed with the petition. There has also been a new tip line to report general H-2B abuse and employer violations and the information can be submitted to ReportH2BAbuse@uscis.dhs.gov.