For employers that rely on the H2B Visa to staff workers, 2009 may be the worst year ever. On December 3, 2008, USCIS updated the count of H-2B petitions received and counted towards the H-2B cap on the USCIS website. As of December 1, 2008, 12,371 petitions have been counted towards the 33,000 cap for the second half of FY 2009.
This means that by early January the 33,000 visas reserved for the second part of year will be gone. Employers like Hotels, Constructions Companies, retail season businesses will be affected the most. We urge the government to pass legislation to increase the H2B cap allowing employers to recruit seasonal workers when needed.
The H2B visa is available to employers of foreign workers not working in the agricultural field. This visa is only available for work that is temporary in nature. For H2B purposes, that means:
Recurring seasonal need;
Peak-load need; and
One time occurrence.
The employer must also prove that there are no unemployed US workers willing or able to do the work. This is established through the state’s employment agency using a labor certification process. This process requires a recruitment campaign, including advertising in a local newspaper for available temporary workers.