The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) has released its analysis of the current USCIS data of the H-2B program for FY17, which ended on Sept. 30. Through their analysis CIS found key discoveries in H-2B areas including: certification numbers, average pay, occupations, and the additional 15,000 visas granted by DHS.

The H-2B visa is a low-skilled guest worker program primarily used by the landscaping, hospitality, and tourism industries to fill season or temporary jobs. The annual cap for H-2B visas is 66,000. However, in July DHS Secretary Kelly used his authority, granted to him by Congress, to approve an additional 15,000 visas for FY17.

The H-2B visa has been criticized by both Republicans and Democrats in Congress for cutting American workers wages and being used to discourage or discriminate against American workers.

A few of the key findings from the study are:

  • There was a 1.3% decrease in the number of certifications (employer requests certifying that they need H-2B workers and were not able to find Americans to fill the positions) from 119,232 in FY16 to 117,716 in FY17. CIS points out that this is still one of highest numbers in the history of the program.

  • There was a very slight increase in average wage paid to H-2B workers from $13.03/ hr. in FY16 to $13.06/hr. in FY17. This is still a huge decrease from the average wage paid to American workers who usually make around $20/hr. for many of these positions.

  • The number of certifications for landscaping and grounds-keeping workers increased by 15% making up 45% of all H-2B certification spots in FY17.

  • Certifications for amusement and recreation attendants jumped into the top 10 occupations list for the first time in FY17. There were 6,703 certifications for this occupation bringing it up to number four on the list.

  • Out of the 15,000 extra visas granted by DHS, 3,175 H-2B visas were granted to agricultural workers. This is unusual as many of these occupations are better suited under the unlimited H-2A visa program, though CIS notes that irregularities in the H-2B process is not uncommon. Only 838 H-2B workers were certified for this occupation category out of the original 66,000 H-2B visa cap.

  • States who applied for fewer workers received more workers under the 15,000 additional H-2B visas. Washington State for example only certified 914 workers under the regular application process (35th in the country) but received 519 workers out of the additional 15,000 visas.

Read the full analysis report at

H-2B visas
Vulnerable Americans

Updated: Thu, Nov 2nd 2017 @ 11:35am EDT