I am in the process of reviewing the proposed changes to the H2B Visa program. Upon initial review, there are good and bad news. Here is a brief summary of the Changes, stay tuned more to come.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it has submitted to the Federal Register a Final Rule that will change the requirements affecting H-2B beneficiaries and their employers.
Key areas of changes covered in the Final Rule include:
•Allowing H-2B petitioners to specify only the number of positions sought and not name the individual aliens except where an intended alien beneficiary is already present in the United States; or where an alien is from a country not eligible for participation in the H-2B program;
•Reducing from six months to three months the time an H-2B worker who has spent three years in the United States must reside and be physically present outside the United States before he or she is eligible to re-obtain H-2B status;
•Reducing the period of time spent outside the United States that interrupts accrual towards the 3-year maximum period of stay in H-2B status;
•Prohibiting H-2B employers and recruiters from imposing certain fees on prospective H-2B workers as a condition of securing employment;
•Requiring an approved temporary labor certification in connection with all H-2B petitions;
•Beginning with petitions filed for workers for Fiscal Year 2010, prohibiting H-2B petitioners from requesting an employment start date on the Form I-129, “Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker,” that is different than the date of need stated on the approved temporary labor certification;
•Amending the definition of “temporary services or labor” to allow U.S. employers and eligible foreign workers the maximum flexibility to complete projects that could be for a specific one-time need of up to 3 years without demonstrating extraordinary circumstances;
•Requiring employers to notify USCIS when H-2B workers fail to show up for work, complete the work more than 30 days early, are terminated, or abscond from the worksite;
Some of the proposed changes (amending the definition of temporary services or labor) may open up the H2B program to other industries, like Technology for example, allowing them to snap up visas from the seasonal labor pool. Let’s hope the new administration will push for cap increase in the H2B visa program as well.