Bloomberg reports, and it has since been confirmed by DHS, that DHS plans to release an additional 22,000 H-2B visas with 6,000 of the 22,000 allocated to the nationals of the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. A few comments:
- We believe this number is set in stone and DHS is likely not amenable to revising their decision, even with significant Congressional pressure.
- A lottery will be necessary. It is likely DHS will accept petitions over a five day window with all applications received in this timeframe included in the lottery. All applications will be treated equally (your DOL bucket assignment will likely not matter).
- It is unclear how the Northern Triangle allocation will work. Will you be able to enter the lottery and if your application is not approved, then petition for workers from the Northern Triangle allocation? This is unknown.
- We must be appreciative of the administration recognizing the need of America’s small and seasonal businesses while also making clear that the release is insufficient. The demand is for 60,000+ visas.
- We overcame vehement union opposition. Our messaging will emphasize that this visa release helps the administration build back the economy. The administration is prioritizing America’s small businesses over big labor and special interests.
- We must use this as a leverage to call on Congress for a permanent fix, whether that be our definitional changes (H-2B to H-2A) or a Returning Worker Exemption.