May 27, 2020

May 26, 2020

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DHS Grants Additional H-2B Visas for Seasonal Employment

Amid a flurry of media reports last week and verified today by U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen announced the availability of 30,000 additional H-2B visas for 2019 seasonal employment. Several years ago, Congress gave the DHS Secretary, in consultation with the Department of Labor, the authority to augment H-2B seasonal visas up to a cap (66,000 per/yr). The Secretary has allowed 15,000 additional H-2B visas in the past two years. This doubling of the allotment comes with a returning worker requirement. That means only those H-2B visa holders who previously held visas in the past three years are eligible to participate in the 30,000 allotment.

The Secretary continues to encourage Congress to pass legislation determining the number of seasonal H-2B visa holders per year. In the interim, many in Congress have encouraged the Secretary to use her discretion, as she did today, to increase H-2B visas to eligible individuals.

The number of additional visas and timing pleasantly surprised many observers. The President has discussed the need for additional workers in speeches recently, and his remarks are believed to have had an effect on today’s announcement.

Sec. Nielsen indicated that a formal announcement of this action will be in an upcoming Federal Register.  Please check back, as we will update this and other posts.

Robert Y. Maples is not admitted to the practice of law

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About this Author

Robert Maples, Greenberg Traurig Law Firm, Northern Virginia, Washington DC, Government Policy

Robert Y. Maples is experienced in the Washington, D.C. federal, state and public affairs arenas. He has also been an advocate for building pragmatic alliances to resolve major social issues and has pioneered strategies for addressing complex public affairs crises in collaborative versus confrontational contexts. He continues his advocacy of pragmatic alliances in furtherance of client/government collaborations among the Congress and federal agencies, and serves as state counsel on complex client public policy matters. He is experienced in complex problem solving in...