DHS Increases Cap on H-2B Visas for FY 2021


The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) published a joint temporary finale rule on May 25, 2021, increasing the cap or numerical limit on H-2B temporary non-agricultural work visas by up to 22,000 additional visas through the end of fiscal year (FY) 2021.

Furthermore, 6,000 of the supplemental visas are reserved for nationals from the El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras, commonly referred to as the “Northern Triangle” countries.

These additional visas are available to businesses in the United States that will likely experience irreparable harm without more H-2B workers. The rule also gives “portability”—the ability to change employers in the event of abuse or unsafe work conditions—to specific H-2B workers by allowing nonimmigrant workers who are already in the U.S. to start employment with a new H-2B employer or agency once U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) receives a H-2B petition in a timely and non-frivolous manner prior to approval.

On April 20, 2021, the DHS initially announced the planned supplemental increase of 22,000 H-2B nonimmigrant visas for the temporary non-agricultural program. The 16,000 visas are available to returning H-2B workers from one of the last three fiscal years, and 6,000 visas for nationals from the Northern Triangle countries, who are exempt from the requirement of being a returning worker.

The food industry and caregiver industry suffered a significant employment shortage in due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers must file Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) and prove that their business will likely suffer irreparable harm without an increased workforce in order to gain additional H-2B employees.

If you are interested in obtaining an employment-based visa in California, contact The Law Office Of Zhang today at (415) 761-2732 to let our experienced San Francisco attorney guide you through the immigration process.