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Tuesday, March 6, 2018

USA: 47,000 visa applications for H-2B workers

Por Feco

As was already predicted, an "unprecedented" increase in H-2B visa applications for the second semester of the fiscal year 2018 in the United States is a reality. The amount far exceeds the quota of 33,000 visas available for temporary non-professional foreign workers in the first semester of the fiscal year, with another 33,000 for the second semester.

The immigration service announced that in five working days it received requests for H-2B visas for some 47,000 non-professional foreign workers with the purpose of working in hotels, tourist facilities, circuses, the forestry industry, spas, among other areas. This amount far exceeds the quota of 33,000 visas available for the first semester of the fiscal year, with another 33,000 for the second semester of the fiscal year.

The government had warned in early February that an "unprecedented" increase would be expected in the coming weeks. "As a result, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducted a lottery on February 28 in order to randomly select enough petitions to reach the maximum regulatory amount," the agency said. The USCIS said that the system used to deliver the 33,000 visas for the second semester of the fiscal year "ensures" that H-2B visas are granted "fairly and do not exceed the maximum regulatory amount." The federal agency added that it "continues to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt or do not count toward the maximum regulatory amount established by Congress.

According to the program's regulations, H-2B visas are used by temporary non-agricultural workers. Congress authorized a quota of 66,000 visas per year divided into two of 33,000 for each semester. The first part is dealt with in the first half of the fiscal year, from October 1 to March 31. The second part is used between April 1 and September 30.

In mid-September of last year, the Donald Trump administration added 15,000 of these visas to the second-semester fee to meet the demand of companies that depend on immigrants during the summer. The H-2B visa lasts one year and two extensions can be requested for the same period of time, at the end of which the bearer is obliged to leave the country, warns the USCIS.

The H-2B program allows US employers or US agents who meet certain regulatory requirements to hire foreign workers from certain countries in temporary non-agricultural positions. To comply with the requirements, the employer must verify that there are not enough American workers trained, willing, qualified and available to perform temporary work. It also has to demonstrate that the employment of H-2B foreigners will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of American workers and demonstrate that the need for service is temporary.