NTRA: 35,000 additional H2-B visas to be released for summer

Posted: March 5, 2020

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security March 5 communicated to congressional offices its intent to release 35,000 additional H-2B visas for the summer season of fiscal 2020.

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

While DHS has not yet released a final rule outlining specific details, the agency has provided the following:

Federal regulators will release the supplementals in two phases. The first batch of 20,000 will be available for employers requiring start dates beginning April 1, and 15,000 to those having start dates beginning May 15.

DHS will “generally limit” issuance of supplemental H-2B visas to returning workers “who are known to follow immigration law in good faith.”

And in a first-time effort to align visa policy with the administration’s border security goals, DHS will award 10,000 supplemental visas to citizens of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras, countries DHS has designated as “key Central American partners” on border security policy.

“We are pleased that the administration and acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf decided to allocate an additional 35,000 H-2B visas for the remainder of fiscal year 2020,” National Thoroughbred Racing Association President and Chief Executive Officer Alex Waldrop said. “Hopefully, this will provide relief to horse trainers who continue to struggle to hire foreign workers for backstretch positions that U.S. citizens are not filling.

While this number of supplemental visas is 5,000 greater than in fiscal year 2019, it is likely to fall short of demand.”