October 17, 2022
Washington, D.C. —Following a push led by U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) announced today that they will increase the number of H-2B visas for Fiscal Year 2023 to the maximum number, approximately 65,000 additional visas, to help small businesses hire workers. These visas are on top of the 66,000 H-2B visas that are normally available each fiscal year. Notably, the announcement made clear that a portion of these additional visas will be “reserved to meet the demand for workers during the peak summer season.” DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas called Senator Collins and Senator King to inform them of the additional visas.
“As small businesses in Maine and America continue to face severe workforce shortages, these 65,000 additional H-2B visas will help our employers find the help they urgently need, ” said Senators Collins and King. “Although this relief is welcome news to many Maine small businesses, there is still an overwhelming need given the current tight labor market and record low unemployment. We must improve the H-2B program to ensure Maine small businesses do not continue to suffer from a lack of workers.”
Senators Collins and King have long led efforts to address workforce shortages. Following a push in May, DHS and DOL announced that a temporary rule had been finalized that provided an additional 35,000 H-2B visas to help small businesses fill seasonal job openings during the busy summer season. These visas supplemented the previous supply of 33,000 H-2B visas for the second half of Fiscal Year 2022.
H-2B workers support American job growth and small businesses. Bipartisan research has found a direct correlation between increased numbers of H-2B workers and a rise in pay across the board for all employees. As required by law, employers must first make a concerted effort to hire American workers to fill open positions. H-2B visas fill needs for American small businesses when there are not enough able and willing American workers to fill the temporary, seasonal positions.