Federal agencies to offer additional H-2B visas

By: National Thoroughbred Racing Association

Posted: Jan. 29, 2022

The United States Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of Labor have agreed to offer 20,000 additional H-2B visas to employers for positions starting on or before March 31, 2022. The visas are used by employers, such as racehorse trainers, who seek seasonal guest workers.

“This addition of H-2B visas is helpful for the horseracing industry as we continue to see high demand for workers by employers,” National Thoroughbred Racing Association President and Chief Executive Officer Tom Rooney said. “At the same time, the NTRA supports relief from the burdensome annual H-2B visa cap to enable affected employers to stabilize their businesses through a permanent returning worker exemption. We urge both departments to permanently reform the program.”

DHS is also providing additional flexibilities to H-2B petitioners under its general programmatic authority by allowing non-immigrant workers in the U.S.  in valid H-2B status and who are beneficiaries of non-frivolous H-2B, to begin work with a new employer after an H-2B petition is filed and before the petition is approved, generally for a period of up to 60 days. This provision clarifies portability eligibility for beneficiaries of pending petitions.

Of the additional 20,000 visas, 6,500 are reserved for nationals of the Northern Triangle countries of Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, and 13,500 for returning workers.

The H-2B visa guest worker program is a non-immigrant visa program used by many industries that need temporary non-agricultural help when domestic workers are unavailable. For the horse racing industry, trainers rely heavily on the H-2B program to fill various backside positions.

For more information, view the temporary final rule in the Federal Register.