WASHINGTON—U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the first half of fiscal year (FY) 2019.
Dec. 6, 2018, was the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before April 1, 2019. USCIS will reject new cap-subject H-2B petitions received after Dec. 6 that request an employment start date before April 1, 2019.
On Dec. 6, the number of beneficiaries USCIS had received petitions for surpassed the total number of H-2B visas available for the H-2B cap for the first half of FY 2019. In accordance with regulations, USCIS determined it was necessary to use a computer-generated process, commonly known as a lottery, to ensure the fair and orderly allocation of H-2B visa numbers to meet, but not exceed, the cap for the first half of FY 2019. On Dec. 11, 2018, USCIS conducted a lottery to randomly select petitions received on Dec. 6. As a result, USCIS assigned all petitions selected in the lottery the receipt date of Dec. 11. Premium processing service for petitions selected in the lottery also began on that date.
USCIS continues to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. This includes the following types of petitions:
Current H-2B workers in the United States petitioning to extend their stay and, if applicable, change the terms of their employment or change their employers;
Fish roe processors, fish roe techvnicians, and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and,
Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam from Nov. 28, 2009, until Dec. 21, 2029.
U.S. businesses use the H-2B program to employ foreign workers for temporary nonagricultural jobs. Currently, 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).