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From the Editor's Desk


As the world economy is going from bad to worse, people around the globe have their eyes glued with hope on the ‘American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009’.


More than 1 million jobs were lost in last few months in the US alone. With the economy in the shape that it is, there are not many job openings available right now, and for those that are available there are often more than 1000 people that apply for a single position. Lots of employees are “on the bench,” trying hard to find any contract position. But not many positions are open in the job market. Many economists believe that this is just the beginning, anticipating that the unemployment rate will increase even more in coming months.


But there is something which has brought certain relief to seasonal workers seeking temporary jobs in the United States. Yes, you got it right, I am talking about the H-2B legislation introduced in the Senate in February.


H-2B Legislation Introduced In the Senate


U.S. Senators Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD.) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced the Save Our Small and Seasonal Business Act of 2009 legislation (S.388) designed to protect small and seasonal businesses from a devastating cut to their workforce by providing an exemption for returning seasonal workers. The Save our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2009, was introduced February 5, 2009, and currently has 31 co-sponsors. A related bill, H.R.1136, was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) on February 23, 2009. Both bills have been referred to their respective Judiciary Committees.


“This bill protects our borders, protects American jobs, and rewards people who play by the rules,” Senator Mikulski said. “Without these seasonal workers, many businesses will not survive—they’ll be forced to limit services, lay off permanent U.S. workers or, worse yet, close their doors. As our nation confronts the most severe economic problems in generations, it is critically important that our government take bold steps to protect American jobs and small businesses. My bill does just that.”

“In times of economic turmoil, it is important to address the needs of the small businesses that constitute the backbone of our national economy,” Senator Specter said. “This bill will provide businesses with the resources necessary for continued growth and expansion. I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate on this important legislation.”


The Save Our Small and Seasonal Business Act of 2009 will:

  • Extend the H2B Returning Worker Exemption that expired on September 20, 2007 for an additional three years;

  • Revise the “three year qualifying period” to include H2R workers, in addition to H2B workers. H2R visas are issued to workers who have possessed an H2B visa for the previous three fiscal years, and are returning to the United States to work; and

  • Firmly cap the program based on the economic needs of the United States, guaranteeing that employers can fill the positions with H2B and H2R workers only when no American workers are available to fill them.


Seasonal workers are crucial for the success of many small and seasonal businesses. Without seasonal workers during peak periods, many businesses cannot afford to employ American workers the rest of the year. Over the past several years, the seasonal worker visa program has come under increasing stress with the number of applicants reaching statutory caps earlier in the year. For the second half of the 2009 fiscal year, the cap was reached on January 7th. Because of this, businesses whose peak seasons come later in the year are often unable to get the workers they need to keep their businesses going.


“Small businesses need our help,” Senator Mikulski said. “Companies in Maryland and around the country are unable to get the H2B visas, and workers, they need and depend on because of bureaucratic red tape and slowdowns. Small and seasonal businesses are counting on us. We need to resolve this problem so we can reward people who are playing by the rules, instead of letting them down.”


Senator Mikulski first introduced the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act in 2004 to address this problem. It was signed into law by President Bush in May 2005, making significant changes to the federal H2B visa program, including: exempting returning seasonal workers from counting against the national cap of 66,000 visas; creating new anti-fraud provisions; and ensuring a fair allocation of H2B visas among spring and summer employees.


So let us hope that the unemployment trend, if not reversed, at least comes to a halt.


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Get geared up for an exciting year ahead!





News Bulletin


USCIS Urges H-2A and H-2B Petitioners to Use the New Form I-129


The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) remind employers who participate in the H-2A agricultural temporary worker program and the H-2B nonagricultural temporary worker program to use the new Form I-129, “Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker,” which contains the H Classification Supplement.


Read More News



Featured Article


H2B Visa - What impact did the DHS’ final rule have on H2B visa requirements?


Late last year, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) published a final rule, “Changes to Requirements Affecting H-2B Nonimmigrants,” which gave the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to publish a list of ‘designated’ countries whose residents could be beneficiaries of H-2B visas. The net effect of the H-2B final rule appears to benefit foreign nationals seeking to enter the US in H-2B status, however it will be harder to gain approval of a petition for an alien not from a country on the approved list. In this article we will discuss the additional requirements for the foreign nationals participating in the H-2B visa program who are not from a country on the list of eligible countries.


Read Full Article | Read More Articles



Questions and Answers


What are the limitations of H-2B visa?


Ans: The limitations of H-2B visa are:

  • The job must be temporary in nature and the employer's need must be for one year or less. The employer’s need may not be ongoing or continuous.

  • The employer has the burden of establishing the facts necessary to support a finding that the need is a one-time occurrence, seasonal, peak load or intermittent need.

  • H-2B time counts whether you are in the U.S. or abroad.

  • H-2B dependents may not work in the U.S.


More Q&A



H2B Myths and Reality


Myth: The H-2B program encourages illegal immigration.


Reality: The H-2B program discourages illegal immigration. This job classification offers employers the one legal means to fill peak workload job vacancies. Without the H-2B program employers would be forced to violate labor laws by hiring illegal workers in order to remain in business. Also, in order to continue to use this work program, employers must ensure that their workers return home at the end of their stay. An unfavorable return rate often leads to the State Department taking action against the employer. The words "Non-Immigrant Worker" mean that the work does not stay in country! And if the worker is terminated, the law states the employer must pay for their immediate return to their home.


News Bulletin
Featured Article
Questions and Answers
H2B Myths and Reality



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Do you think the H-2B legislation recently introduced in the Senate will really benefit the seasonal employment?


a. Yes
b. No
c. Can't Say


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Test your knowledge about the H-2B visa by answering The H2B Quiz question.


Once the visa cap for the first half of a fiscal year has been reached, assuming the visas continue to be granted on this basis, can the DOL amend previously certified labor applications so that the date of need can start in the second half of the fiscal year?


Submit your response to the query above. The best response and the sender’s name will be published in the next Express H2B Newsletter.


Submit Your Answer

Winner of the THE H2B QUIZ - February 2009:

James Louis

The Question:

Can the dependents of H-2B visa holder work in the US?

The Winning Response:
No, the dependants of H-2B visa holder are not allowed to work in the US. However they are entitled to study in the US.







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H2B Nonagricultural Employees.



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