H-2B Labor Update: Time is running out, assistance needed for returning worker exemption


In 2022, the Department of Labor received applications for a record 136,555 seasonal worker visas for the second half of the FY2022 H-2B visa cap. Without cap relief, only 24% of applicants will receive their workers in what is considered a tough labor market.

It’s no secret that there is a labor crisis in the United States, with most local businesses currently understaffed and hiring. Fortunately, a permanent solution to the outdated ceiling from the H-2B program makes perfect sense to help resolve the labor situation.

To help provide much-needed cap relief, Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX-28) introduced HR 3897, Returning Worker Exemption Act of 2021. As of Feb. 2, 55 members of Congress have signed the bill as as co-sponsors, however, more signatures are needed for this bill to gain traction.

If you are an equitable board or committee memberplease contact your congressman and explain that your carnival company uses H-2B visa workers and without any workers your event may not take place in 2022 and ask them to support HR 3897.

If you are an industry supplierplease contact your congressman and explain that the industry you serve depends on workers with H-2B visas and without any workers, your company and the American workers you employ may be suffering from a lack of orders and ask them to support HR 3897.

If you are a carnival or H-2B employer:

  1. Click here for a template if you were placed in Group A.
  2. Click here for a template if you have been placed in the BF groups.

Senator King / Rounds Letter

Senators King (I-ME) and Rounds (R-SD) circulate letter asking DHS to release the total number of visas it is authorized to issue (44,617) and compel DOL to expedite processing H-2B visas. Click here to see the letter.

You should contact your senators to ask them to sign the King/Rounds letter. The deadline for signatures is February 7.

Click here for a model. Reply to this email if you need the email addresses of your senators’ staff.

Department of Labor processing times

DOL finished posting the first actions on Group A nominations on January 26. Last year, the DOL finished publishing the first actions on Group A applications on January 19. The first shares of Group B were launched on January 28. So far, about 30% of Group B claims have been the subject of a first action. We expect a significant percentage of Group B applicants to receive their workers.

At this rate, DOL will not complete processing applications for Group G (the last group assignment of FY22) until the end of March. Even if cap relief is granted, Group G workers would not arrive until May.

The Alliance for Seasonal Employment has submitted this letter to the administration and our congressional allies demanding that DOL take immediate action to improve its processing speed. Actions may include instituting emergency procedures to allow employers to begin recruiting American workers before they receive their first actions from the DOL. In 2016, due to similar processing delays, the DOL instituted emergency procedures.

New requirements for H-2B workers

The Department of Labor announced that it requires all incoming H-2B workers crossing the border into the United States to be vaccinated against COVID-19 with a CDC-approved vaccine.

Please see the attached link with information on vaccination requirements for incoming travelers: https://www.dhs.gov/news/2022/01/20/dhs-require-non-us-individual-travelers- entering-united-states-land-ports-of-entry-and

This fact sheet further details updated vaccination and entry requirements: Fact Sheet: Travel Advice for Entering the United States at Land Ports of Entry and Ferry Terminals | Homeland Security (dhs.gov)


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