From January 1-3, 2021, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) received employer applications for 96,888 temporary, non-agricultural H-2B visa positions starting on or after April 1, 2021.
Employers’ requests far exceeded the 33,000 H-2B cap-subject visas available for the remainder of FY 2021. The OFLC will use randomized selection to pick which employers’ applications it will process.
The FY 2021 appropriations bill enacted in December allows the administration to issue up to 69,320 additional H-2B visas for FY 2021. Should the administration act quickly to release all of the additional visas, every employer who filed during the 72 hour filing window may have a chance of getting their needed temporary workers. While over the past four years, the administration has released only a fraction of the additional visas that Congress allowed, it’s possible that the incoming Biden administration will release the maximum number.
Despite the pandemic and the resulting increase in unemployed Mainers, many Maine employers could not find enough U.S. workers to fill their seasonal jobs during 2020. That trend was repeated nationwide, according to a recent analysis.
The Biden administration has signaled its willingness to work on rebuilding and reforming the U.S. immigration system. It is past time for Congress to work in earnest to enact common sense immigration reforms, including addressing the chronic H-2B visa shortages and other shortcomings of the program.