H-2B Visas Increase And Portability

Jackson Lewis P.C.
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To help employers dealing with labor shortages due to the limits on H-2B temporary, seasonal visas, a new rule published by the Department of Labor (DOL) increases the H-2B numerical limits. DOL also released a rule that allows H-2B nonimmigrant workers already in the United States to begin work immediately with a new employer after an H-2B petition has been filed if it is supported by a valid Temporary Labor Certification (TLC) received by USCIS even if it is not yet approved.

The new rules do not apply to employees who are continuing to work with the same employer. Those employees are not “portable,” instead they are entitled to keep working for up to an additional 240 days if the extension of stay was timely filed.

Portability for workers changing employers applies if:

  • The H-2B extension was received before May 25 and is pending on May 25, 2021; or
  • USCIS receives the H-2B petition between May 25 and November 22, 2021.

First, the new employee may be employed for up to 60 days beginning on the employment start date of the petition or May 25, 2021, whichever is later.

Second, the 60-day period begins on the Received Date of the Form I-797, Notice of Action, acknowledging receipt of the petition or the employment start date, if later than the receipt date.

Completing a Form I-9, Employment Eligibility Verification, for H-2B portability requires:

  • An unexpired Form I-94, Arrival/Departure Record indicating H-2B status and the employee’s foreign passport constitute a List A Document
  • In Section 2, List A enter:
    • Unexpired foreign passport information
    • Unexpired Form I-94 information
    • Enter “60-Day Ext.” and the date extension of stay petition was submitted to USCIS in the Additional Information field
  • Employment authorization must be reverified in Section 3 by the end of the 60-day period or when a decision is received from the USCIS, whichever is sooner.

If USCIS denies the petition or the new petition is withdrawn by the employer before the 60-day period expires, USCIS will automatically terminate the worker’s employment authorization 15 calendar days after the denial or the withdrawal.

Although the new allotment of H-2Bs have been snatched up, there are still some H-2B visas available for employees from the Northern Triangle countries. If those are not all allotted by July 8, 2021, the remaining visas will be released by the end of July.

For more information on H-2B petitions, see the new H-2B Employer Data Hub.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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