At midnight on January 2, 2020, employers hoping to bring H-2B non-agricultural workers to work in seasonal positions starting between April 1 – September 30, 2020 can begin the filing process.
As usual, there are only 33,000 H-2B visas available for non-cap exempt positions during the second half of FY 2020. To avoid having their system crash, as happened a year ago, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) has advised that all applications received during January 2nd, 3rd and 4th will be randomly selected for consideration towards the cap, and there is no advantage to trying to file right at midnight on January 2nd.
Even with the filing procedure modifications, many Maine employers vying for any of the 33,000 available H-2B visas are likely to find themselves shut out. Employers seeking details about which workers are cap-exempt can check here.
Congress should enact a permanent and substantial increase in the number of H-2B visas so that employers can look to the program as one that can be relied upon to meet their seasonal labor needs. With unemployment hovering near 3.5% nationally, and at 2.8% in Maine (where it has been below 4% for a record 4 years), there is no excuse for inaction.