Colorado employers struggling to fill seasonal job openings are now eligible to compete for additional H-2B visas, made available after a joint governmental agency ruling.
On Jan. 27, the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced the distribution of 20,000 extra H-2B temporary visas for nonagricultural workers.
The rule seeks to address worker shortages
The temporary order applies to employers who face irreparable harm without additional seasonal workers on or before March 31. In Colorado, H-2B visas are highly sought after by businesses in industries such as landscaping, skiing, hospitality, roofing and concrete work.
Restrictions and other effects stemming from the pandemic led to severe worker shortages for these industries and many others. Some employers have had to curtail hours and cut back their operations due to significantly reduced worker numbers.
Breaking down the supplemental visa allocation
Under the order, the DHS authorized the additional H-2B visas to employers starting on Jan. 28. The 20,000 visas consist of:
- Returning workers who previously received an H-2B visa or were otherwise granted H-2B status during one of the previous three fiscal years. These individuals make up 13,500 additional visas.
- The remaining 6,500 H-2B visas are exempt from the returning work requirement and are earmarked for workers from Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras and Haiti.
All other governmental rules apply to the application process. Many politicians are also urging DHS to make additional visas available for the second half of 2022.
Research: H-2B visas are vital to a healthy economy
Studies show temporary noncitizen employees contribute greatly to the U.S. economy, not just to their employers’ bottom lines. The National Immigration Forum says a 1% increase in H-2B employees contributes to higher wages for all citizen and noncitizen workers.
Colorado is in the top five states for the total number of H-2B visas issued. The process is highly procedural and contains several time-sensitive deadlines. Employers are advised to consult experienced legal help when applying for these visas, for which the demand vastly exceeds the supply each year.