NAHB encourages the expansion of guest worker programs that complement ongoing domestic recruitment and training efforts to ensure a workforce that can meet the nation’s housing construction needs.
Some in the building industry have turned to temporary guest worker programs after exhausting their options to obtain local, domestic labor for work in trades such as roofing, carpentry, drywall installation and landscaping.
The H-2B temporary non-agricultural worker program, while costly and bureaucratically challenging, has allowed some employers with peak, seasonal labor needs to secure additional workers to supplement their regular employees. These visas are available to a broad swath of seasonal industries for which temporary labor demand is high.
NAHB hosted a webinar to help members learn whether they could qualify to apply for H-2B workers and the steps they must take to become certified employers under the program.
To watch a replay, please be sure your computer has all of the system requirements. You can test your connection using this link.
Current Status of the Program
The H-2B program has an annual cap of 66,000 visas that can be issued nationwide each year (33,000 for each half). Workers who came into the United States on an H-2B visa in any of three prior years were previously exempted from being counted towards that total, but Congress allowed this exemption to expire in September 2016. As a result, the pool of available visas has been exhausted prematurely every year since, shutting out many companies who have used H-2B labor in the past.On May 8, 2019, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Department of Labor (DOL) published a joint rule raising the cap for fiscal year 2019 by up to 30,000 additional visas for returning workers who were granted H-2B status in any of three fiscal years prior (2016-2018). Those workers would be available only to petitioning employers who could demonstrate their business would face "irreparable harm" without H-2B workers. DHS announced on June 7 that it had received enough petitions in just one month to reach the new cap.
The first round of fiscal 2020 visas become available on Oct. 1, so employers that are interested in securing H-2B labor are advised to begin preparing now. Visit the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’s web site for more information on the program.