Additional 22k guest worker visas to become available Tuesday

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The Biden administration on Friday rolled out a new temporary rule paving the way for employers to obtain 22,000 new guest worker visas — a one-third increase over current levels — starting Tuesday.

The program sets aside 6,000 visas for workers from Northern Triangle countries — Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador — where many migrants come from seeking to enter the country across the U.S.-Mexico border. The other 16,000 visas will only be available for workers who have held H-2B visas since 2018.

“Today’s joint rule helps American businesses and addresses the need for robust worker protections,” said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. “For the first time, we are setting aside supplemental visas for noncitizens from Northern Triangle countries, in furtherance of President Biden’s and Vice President Harris’ direction to expand legal pathways for protection and opportunity for individuals from those countries.”

The administration first announced the expansion in late April, a step that allowed the government to increase pathways of legal immigration without Congressional approval.

Republicans say the spike in border crossings is a crisis, and have hammered Biden for loosening immigration restrictions they say attract more migrants. The border is among the few policy areas where Biden is underwater in public support.

United States Citizenship and Immigration Services acting Director Tracy L. Renaud highlighted the additional steps required to obtain visas, intended to protect both visa holders and U.S. workers.

For example, the rule requires employers to take additional steps to attempt to hire U.S. workers before seeking a visa.

It also allows for “portability,” which both allows workers to begin employment before the petition is approved and change employers more quickly if their work environment is unsafe of abusive.

“DHS and the Department of Labor will also conduct a significant number of post-adjudication reviews to ensure compliance with the program’s requirements,” Renaud said.

Tags Alejandro Mayorkas Immigrant visas Immigration Joe Biden Northern Triangle
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