Congress has approved an additional 64,716 H-2B visas for fiscal year 2024, supplementing the 66,000 available annually. As in prior years, restrictions will apply. A temporary final rule has been published in the Federal Register setting out the procedures involved.

H-2B visas for temporary, seasonal nonagricultural workers are used primarily for jobs in tourism and hospitality, landscaping and construction, and food processing. Once the annually available 66,000 visas run out, employers are forced to continue operations without sufficient number of workers. The initial allocation of H-2B visas for FY 2024 ran out on October 11, 2023, just days after USCIS began accepting applications.

The supplemental visas are available to employers who can provide evidence they are suffering or will suffer irreparable harm if they are unable to supplement their permanent staff with temporary H-2B workers. The additional visas are going to be distributed in several allocations throughout the year.

The plan is to have four allocations:

  • First half of FY 2024 (October 1 – March 31): 20,716 for returning workers with start dates on or before March 31, 2024 (regardless of nationality)
  • Early second half of FY 2024 (April 1 – May 14): 19,000 for returning workers with start dates from April 1, 2024, to May 14, 2024 (regardless of nationality)
  • Late second half of FY 2024: 5,000 for returning workers with start dates from May 15, 2024, to September 30, 2024 (regardless of nationality)
  • For the entirety of FY 2024: 20,000 visas reserved for nationals of Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti without regard to whether they are returning workers

When adjudicating cases for the additional visas, the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor have indicated they will also consider the impact on U.S. workers and make every effort to protect the H-2B workers from exploitation through rulemaking.

Individuals from 89 countries are eligible to apply for H-2B visas. This year, Bolivia was added to the list.

Jackson Lewis attorneys are available to assist in navigating the H-2B process, which involves not only capturing one of the limited number of visas available, but also following complex rules regarding filing dates, labor market tests, visa applications, and proving irreparable harm.