Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) are expected to make an additional 64,716 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas available for Fiscal Year 2024 (FY 24), on top of the congressionally mandated 66,000 H-2B visas that are available each fiscal year.
“These additional H-2B visas are a welcome relief for small businesses throughout Maine that continue to face a shortage of employees,” said Senators Collins and King. “These visas are a lifeline for our state’s economy, helping businesses meet the increasing demand for their products and services.”
The FY 24 H-2B supplemental allocation is expected to include 20,000 visas for workers from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, and Honduras. In addition to the 20,000 country-specific allocation, 44,716 supplemental visas would be 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.
Senators Collins and King have consistently pushed DHS and DOL to increase the availability of H-2B visas, and they have worked to ensure that the H-2B visa program is efficient and effective. Last year, they successfully urged the agencies to release the maximum number of H-2B visas – marking the first time that the Departments issued a single rule making available H-2B supplemental visas for several allocations throughout the entire fiscal year.
In June 2023, Senators Collins and King sent a letter sent to DOL Acting Secretary Julie Su requesting an explanation for the extreme delays affecting the processing of labor certifications for H-2B visa applications.
The DHS appropriations bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee on July 27, 2023, includes report language drafted by Senator Collins directing DHS, in consultation with DOL, to produce a report on “the economic impact of the H-2B visa program on a state-by-state and national level; the estimated number of H-2B visas that would have been required to meet demand in FY 2023 on a state-by-state and national level; and any adverse economic impact that resulted from the inability to meet such demand.”
As required by law, employers must first make a concerted effort to hire American workers to fill open positions. H-2B visas fill needs for American small businesses when there are not enough able and willing American workers to fill the temporary, seasonal positions.