USCIS is announcing today that employers may file H-2B petitions for returning workers under the FY 2021 H-2B supplemental visa temporary final rule. Employers may take this action if they are likely to suffer irreparable harm without these additional workers. A petitioner must file a new Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, together with an approved and valid temporary labor certification that states an employment start date for the second half of the fiscal year, and attest that these noncitizens will be returning workers. Returning workers are defined as workers who were issued an H-2B visa or otherwise granted H-2B status in FY 2018, 2019, or 2020.
USCIS will accept petitions for returning workers until Sept. 15, 2021, or until the remainder of the cap is reached, whichever occurs first. Any petitions that arrive after this cap has been reached will be rejected. USCIS previously announced having received enough petitions for the 16,000 visas initially made available for returning workers under the rule. Although USCIS received requests for a substantial number of workers from the Northern Triangle (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras), USCIS did not receive enough petitions to reach the 6,000 visas allocated for workers from Northern Triangle countries by the July 8 deadline. According to the temporary final rule, the few remaining visas are now available to eligible H-2B returning workers, regardless of their country of origin.
The allocation of 6,000 visas to workers from the Northern Triangle is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s broader efforts to expand legal pathways for protection and opportunity for nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. USCIS received requests for a significant number of Northern Triangle workers – nearly enough to reach the 6,000 allocation. USCIS encourages employers, including those who wish to employ returning workers from the Northern Triangle countries, to file as soon as possible, because petitions are likely to quickly reach the remainder of the cap.
For more details on eligibility and filing requirements, see the temporary final rule and the Temporary Increase in H-2B Nonimmigrant Visas for FY 2021 page.