The Department of Homeland Security, Washington, D.C., will release 64,716 H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas available for the fiscal year 2024 in addition to the congressionally mandated 66,000 H-2B visas that are available each fiscal year.
The supplemental visas are intended to help alleviate the demand for seasonal workers and reduce irregular migration, according to a press release from the agency.
“The Department of Homeland Security is committed to maintaining strong economic growth and meeting the labor demand in the United States while strengthening worker protections for U.S. and foreign workers,” said Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of Homeland Security. “We are using the tools that we have available to bolster the resiliency of our industries and release the maximum number of additional H-2B visas for U.S. businesses to ensure they can plan for their peak season labor needs.”
Mayorkas said the increase in visa allocations is part of a broader initiative not only to meet the immediate labor demands but also to enhance the welfare of both domestic and foreign workers participating in the program. The initiative underscores the department’s proactive stance against exploitation and unsafe work environments that can arise from labor shortages.
“We also continue to take steps to strengthen protections for workers and safeguard the integrity of the program from unscrupulous employers who would seek to exploit workers by paying substandard wages and maintaining unsafe work conditions,” he said. “Our maximum use of the H-2B visa program also continues to build on our commitment to expand lawful pathways as an alternative to irregular migration, thereby cutting out the ruthless smugglers who prey on the vulnerable.”
The H-2B supplemental is expected to include an allocation of 20,000 visas to workers from Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti and Honduras.