On Feb. 21, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began receiving H-2B Visa petitions cap-subject for the second half of fiscal year 2018.
During the first five business days USCIS received approximately 2,700 H-2B cap-subject petitions. Approximately 47,000 workers applied. This is more than the number of H-2B visas available! As a result, USCIS, conducted a lottery on Feb. 28 to randomly select enough petitions to meet the cap.
Further petitions for general cap will be rejected
USCIS will reject and return the petitions and associated filing fees to petitioners that were not selected, as well as any cap-subject petitions received after Feb. 27.
In January, the Department of Labor announced a change to process of issuing labor certifications. As a result, on Feb. 7 USCIS advised need to conduct an H-2B visa lottery for the second half of FY18. USCIS would be maintaining a flexible approach to this issue by ensuring H-2B visas were allocated fairly and would not exceed the cap.
Petitions exempt from Cap still acceptable
USCIS continues to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from, or not counted towards, the congressionally mandated cap. This includes petitions for the following workers:
- Current H-2B workers in the United States seeking to extend their stay and, if applicable, change the terms of their employment or change their employers;
- Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians, and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and
- Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam, until Dec. 31, 2019.
H-2B Visa petitioners may continue to request premium processing together with their H-2B petition. Premium processing service for these petitions began on March 1st.
U.S. businesses use the H-2B program to employ foreign workers for temporary nonagricultural jobs. Congress has set the H-2B cap at 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (Oct. 1 – March 31) and 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 – Sept. 30).
If you need additional information about H-2B Visa Cap you can find it on the Cap Count for H-2B Nonimmigrants page.