The U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor Dec. 20 announced the forthcoming publication of a joint temporary final rule to make available an additional 20,000 H-2B visas for the first half of fiscal year 2022 that ends on March 31, 2022, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association reported Monday. This is the first time the DHS has provided supplemental H-2B visas in the first half of a fiscal year.
“Tremendously high demand for H-2B visas has led to this unprecedented move by the DHS and DOL,” said NTRA president and CEO Alex Waldrop. “Competition for these visas has been fierce for many years but is particularly so in today’s strong job market. We encourage affected trainers to act quickly.”
The supplemental H-2B visa allocation consists of 13,500 visas available to returning workers who received an H-2B visa, or were otherwise granted H-2B status, during one of the last three fiscal years. The remaining 6,500 visas, which are exempt from the returning worker requirement, are reserved for nationals of Haiti and the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
This nonimmigrant visa program is used by many industries that need temporary non-agricultural help when domestic workers are unavailable. Currently, Congress has set the H-2B cap at 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (Oct. 1-March 31) and 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1-Sept. 30).
For the horse racing industry, racehorse trainers rely heavily on the H-2B program to fill various backside positions. Demand for H-2B visas often exceeds their availability and the cap level is quickly reached, leaving employers without sufficient help.
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