FY23 H-2B SECOND HALF CAP MET: On March 2nd, The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that the FY23 statutory second half H-2B visa cap has been met. February 27th was DHS’ final petition receipt date.
FILING INSTRUCTIONS FOR CAP RELIEF VISAS: DHS began accepting petitions for the additional 16,500 returning worker visas on March 14th. Per regulation, DHS will accept petitions over a five-day window before determining if a lottery is necessary. We believe a lottery is unlikely and that DHS will thus continue to accept petitions until the supplemental cap is met. We expect most of Group C and Group D to receive their returning workers from the supplemental visa release of 16,500 Returning Workers but not Groups E-G (unless you filed for the May 15th allocation of 10,000 returning worker visas).
OPTIONS FOR GROUPS E-G EMPLOYERS: If your application was assigned to Groups E-G, your only option, most likely, is to request workers from the Northern Central American countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. At the end of last year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the release of an additional 64,716 H-2B visas for Fiscal Year 2023, of which 20,000 are set aside for workers from the “Northern Triangle” countries of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras (as well as Haiti). Even as overall H-2B demand is set to once again outpace supply, this Northern Triangle allocation remains underutilized and should be considered by any employer who might otherwise not have access to H-2B workers. As of March 14th, 6,245 of the 20,000 available Northern Triangle positions are either approved or pending. We do not expect this cap to be met.
NORTHERN TRIANGLE SHOWCASE TRIP REPORT: The week before last, several SEA members, including The Heartland Company, The Pattie Group and clients of SEA member agent Labor Consultants International, traveled to Guatemala and El Salvador to interview workers and meet with pertinent government officials. Our members, especially the landscapers, were impressed with the quality of the workers. They (Highland Turf, Lakes Area Landscaping, Landscape Workshop, Triple H Services etc.) intend to bring in over 500 workers for this season.
- Employer feedback Re: Guatemalan v. Salvadoran workers
- The landscape employers who were present at the hiring events stated that they found the Salvadoran job candidates to be well vetted, engaged, and qualified.
- One company was there to recruit right of way vegetation management workers. This employer had better luck in Guatemala (will be requesting 16 Guatemalans and 4 Salvadorans).
- The construction employer was impressed with the candidates from both countries.
- The ministries did a poor job of recruiting workers for the forestry employers. They did not recruit the right type of workers. The forestry employers left almost empty handed (expect one employer who interviewed referrals of his current workers in El Salvador. The ministry even provided transportation for these workers to the mass hire event. Very gracious!).
Click here to watch a video that explains the process of requesting Northern Triangle workers.
NEXT STEPS: If you are considering Northern Triangle workers for this season, we encourage you to begin this process IMMEDIATELY. The process of recruiting and facilitating workers takes time, especially if you are recruiting new workers. Starting now will help minimize delays in worker arrivals. Considering that these visas have already been released, there is no need for workers to be delayed months into your season if you engage in proper planning now. Ideally, as soon as you have your USCIS approval, you can immediately proceed to scheduling your workers’ appointments.
Contact Gray Delany at email@example.com if you are interested/need information to start the process.