We have been in regular communication with DHS regarding the first half visa release and are hopeful of a significant first half release. FAQS:
- When do you expect DHS to make the announcement of a visa release? Hopefully early October. DHS will not make the announcement until the agency receives clarity that its authority to release additional visas is extended into the first half of FY23. This requires passage of the continuing resolution (i.e., FY23 budget) with the same language as last year that extends DHS’ authority. We expect Congress to include our language in a continuing resolution through mid-December.
- When do you expect the rule to be published? We anticipate it will take 6-8 weeks for DHS/DOL to write the rule. The rule could be published as early as mid-November and as late as early December.
- How many visas do you expect DHS to release? We cannot speculate on an exact number but we expect a significant release, hopefully substantial to allow employers who wish to file for February and March dates of need to do so. The additional benefit of this would be to reduce demand on the second half visa allotment. Spacing out some of DOL’s workload would hopefully alleviate some of the processing delays encountered last year (April 1 applications assigned to Buckets F and G were not certified until after their start date).
- Will there be a bifurcation between Returning Worker and Northern Triangle workers as there has been in previous rules? Yes. If the visas are made available by early December, this will allow employers with February/March dates to have confidence that workers requested from the Northern Triangle should arrive on time (emphasis on “should”). Employers will have time to rectify any potential issues before they jeopardize timely worker arrivals.
- Will a large first half release come at the expense of a second half release? No, but it is possible the second half release will be smaller than in previous years and that the releases will be more evenly split between the first half and second half. Keep in mind that if Republicans take the House, there is a small chance of also enacting a Returning Worker Exemption in time to help employers capped out in the second half of FY23.