DHS issues temporary final rule for H2B visas

The rule makes available 64,716 additional H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for the fiscal year 2023.

The Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C. and the Department of Labor issued a temporary final rule that makes available 64,716 additional H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas for fiscal year 2023 in December, 2022.

The visas are for “U.S. employers seeking to petition for additional workers at certain periods of the fiscal year before Sept. 15, 2023,” according to DHS.

“The Department is making supplemental H-2B visas available earlier than ever, ensuring that American businesses can plan for their peak season labor needs,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. “At a time of record job growth, these visas will also provide a safe and lawful pathway to the United States for noncitizens prepared to take jobs that are not filled by American workers.”

The publication of the rule is expected to make an impact on the irrigation industry.

“It’s incredibly important for our industry,” Andrew Bray, senior vice president of government relations and membership at the National Association of Landscape Professionals, told Irrigation & Lighting in November.

Nathan Bowen, advocacy director at the Irrigation Association, pointed out that while the program isn’t necessarily the most prolific source of labor for the industry, it does increase the general pool of labor across the country.

“I think that while some of the irrigation industry uses the H2-B program — which is a direct benefit to them — it gives those who don’t participate in the program breathing room in the labor market and helps there not be quite as much competition,” says Bowen.

The supplemental H-2B visa allocation consists of just over 44,000 visas available to returning workers who received an H-2B visa or were otherwise granted H-2B status during one of the last three fiscal years. The remaining 20,000 visas are reserved for nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti, regardless of whether they are returning workers, according to an announcement from DHS.

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