By: Bruce Buchanan, Sebelist Buchanan Law

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced on March 30, 2019 that it will issue an additional 30,000 H-2B visas to employers across the country to help fill seasonal jobs.

Many senators, both Democrats and Republicans, had urged DHS Secretary Nielsen to increase the existing 66,000 H-2B visa cap to 135,320, the number available in fiscal year 2007, which is permitted by a provision in the FY 2019 DHS Appropriations Bill. Secretary Nielsen used similar authority in FYs 2017 and 2018 to provide an additional 15,000 H-2B visas. Thus, the number of visas becoming available is double the amount available in 2018.

The new visas, which are in addition to the 33,000 already issued for jobs beginning April 1, will be available only to returning H-2B workers who have worked in the United States in the past three years. DHS has not said when employers can begin applying for them.

Access to foreign labor has become a major issue for seasonal businesses in many states, such as tourism and landscaping, that have for years struggled with severe worker shortages. With a historically tight labor market and fewer Americans willing to do seasonal service work, the new visas are certain to be in high demand throughout the United States. And even with the additional visas, employers say there will not be enough to go around and predict they will again begin the tourism season shorthanded.

If you want to know more information on issues related to employer immigration compliance, I recommend you read The I-9 and E-Verify Handbook, a book I co-authored with Greg Siskind, and available at