On April 20, the Department of Homeland Security announced it will provide an additional 22,000 visas for the H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Worker program for the second half of fiscal year 2021 (April 1-Sept. 30). The additional visas will be made available via a temporary final rule that will be printed in the Federal Register in the coming days.
Of the 22,000 additional visas, 6,000 will be reserved at least initially for individuals from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. Also, the rule will allow employers to immediately hire H-2B workers who already are in the U.S. without waiting for approval of a new petition.
In December 2020, Congress included an amendment in appropriations legislation that provided DHS with the authority to issue additional H-2B visas beyond the existing statutory cap of 33,000 visas in the second half of fiscal year 2021 if warranted by demand.
The DHS action comes in response to recent pleas from NRCA and many employers urging the agency to provide additional visas to help address ongoing workforce shortages in the roofing industry and other industries. On April 1, NRCA CEO Reid Ribble sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, urging him to move expeditiously to provide more visas to meet workforce demands.