As discussed here, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) received applications for nearly 100,000 non-agricultural seasonal positions from employers hoping to obtain H-2B visas for the second half of FY 2020 beginning April 1, 2020. The OFLC went through a random selection process to assign the applications to several groups.
On January 8, 2019, the OFLC published the list of random group assignments. Employers also received individual notices of their group assignments.
Group A includes applications for enough worker positions to exhaust the 33,000 H-2B visa cap for the second half of FY 2020. Subsequent groups include applications covering up to 20,000 positions. Applications in Group A will be reviewed first, and only if there are sufficient applications that appear to not be approvable so that the cap will not be reached will OFLC start reviewing applications in Group B. Applications in Group C will be considered only if the cap has not been reached after reviewing the applications in Group B, and so on, through Group E.
While the list confirms that many Maine employers filed applications to initiate the H-2B visa process for prospective seasonal employees, a review of the list shows that barely a third of positions sought by Maine employers made it into Group A. Forty-six percent of Maine’s seasonal positions are in Groups C through E and are very unlikely to get in under the H-2B cap. The employers who filed those applications are likely to need to look elsewhere for staffing for their seasonal positions starting between April 1st and September 30th, 2020.
Once again, the H-2B visa program will be inadequate to the task of ensuring that Maine’s employers have sufficient employees for their non-agricultural seasonal labor needs. Congress needs to substantially raise the cap on H-2B visas, or remove the cap altogether.