H-2B visa reaches half-year cap

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) has announced that the H-2B visa cap for the first half of Fiscal Year 2015 has now been reached.

The H-2B visa programme allows US employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs. Currently, the H-2B cap is set at 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the first half of the fiscal year (1st October to 31st March) and 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the 2nd half of the fiscal year (1st April 1 and 30th September).

An alert on the USCIS website reveals that the cap for the first half of this Fiscal year was reached on 26th January. USCIS will reject any H-2B petitions that were received after 26th January which request an employment start date prior to 1st April. Anyone who has submitted such a petition after this date will need to resubmit their application for the second half of the Fiscal Year.

USCIS will, however, continue to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. Generally, all H-2B workers who extend their stay in H-2B status will not be counted again against the H-2B cap. Similarly, the spouse and children of H-2B workers classified as H-4 non-immigrants are not counted against this cap. Additionally petitions for the following types of workers are also exempt the H-2B cap:

– Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and

– From 28th November 2009 until 31st December 2019, workers performing labour or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and/or Guam.