As of June 1, 2011, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) receipted 28,201 petitions toward the 33,000 H-2B cap amount for the second half of the fiscal year. This count includes 26,655 approved and 1,546 pending petitions.
The H-2B non-agricultural temporary worker program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs. There is a statutory numerical limit, or “cap,” on the total number aliens who may be issued a visa or otherwise provided H-2B status (including through a change of status) during a fiscal year.
Currently, the H-2B cap set by Congress is 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the 1st half of the fiscal year (October 1 – March 31) and 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the 2nd half of the fiscal year (April 1 – September 30). Any unused numbers from the first half of the fiscal year will be made available for use by employers seeking to hire H-2B workers during the second half of the fiscal year. There is no “carry over” of unused H-2B numbers from one fiscal year to the next.
Generally, an H-2B worker who extends his/her 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 nonimmigrants are not counted against this cap. Additionally petitions for the following types of workers are exempt the H-2B cap:
- Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and
- From November 28, 2009 until December 31, 2014, workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam.
Once the H-2B cap is reached, USCIS may only accept petitions for H-2B workers who are exempt from the H-2B cap.