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H-2B Country Expansion for Temporary Workers

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On November 8, 2016, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced the addition of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to the list of 83 countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Labor Certification Program. The H-2B program permits U.S. employers to bring foreign workers into the country to fill temporary jobs in non-agricultural fields. H-2B workers typically fill seasonal jobs lasting less than 9 months in fields such as hospitality, landscaping, food service, and the like; however, they can also supplement a year-round company’s permanent workforce due to “peakload need” or a specific occurrence. The U.S. limits the number of H-2B workers each fiscal year to 66,000, divided into 33,000 workers per 6-month period running from October 1 to March 31, and again from April 1 to September 30. Due to the shortage of available workers for these positions in many areas around the country (such as heavy tourist areas), the annual quotas are often reached well before the end of each 6-month time frame.
In April 2015, the H-2B program was completely overhauled with the introduction of many new rules and processes. With the modified procedure, employers must now complete multiple steps with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) prior to filing an H-2B petition with the USCIS, including testing the U.S. labor market to ensure there are no available domestic workers to fill the temporary job. In addition, the timeframe for employers to initiate DOL processing is now 75–90 days prior to the job start date, a reduction from the previous 120-day timeframe. It is important to note that this timeframe begins only after employers have obtained a certified Prevailing Wage Determination from the DOL (an H-2B requirement that takes approximately 60 days to receive). Therefore, employers looking to bring H-2B workers into the U.S. for the Summer 2017 season need to begin now in order to have sufficient time to complete the process and still have the employees arrive in time for the season.
Besides the obvious benefit of the H-2B program supplying U.S. employers with much-needed temporary support, the program also provides companies with a significant cost benefit. By filing a single H-2B petition, an employer can bring multiple foreign workers into the U.S. to fill temporary positions (so long as the workers will be performing the same role at the same location). This makes the H-2B program a great, affordable option for employers needing numerous temporary workers.
Have you thought about how to get workers for your busy summer season? Interested in pursuing an H-2B petition? Have questions about whether the H-2B could be the right fit for your company? GoffWilson is here to help! Contact our office today for more information. It’s what we do!
Filed under:Immigration Law