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USCIS Reaches H-2B Cap for Fiscal Year 2015

The congressionally mandated cap on the number of foreigners seeking to enter the US on a H-2B Non-Agricultural Workers visa for Fiscal Year 2015 has already been reached, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced Friday.

The agency stated it “has received enough [H-2B visa] petitions to reach the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for fiscal year FY 2015. March 26, 2015 was the deadline for making application for the visa receipt date for new H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before October 1, 2015.

The H-2B visa allows US employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs.

The statutory "cap" on the total number of foreign nationals who may be issued an H-2B visa or otherwise granted H-2B status during a fiscal year is66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the 1st half of the fiscal year (October 1 – March 31) and 33,000 for workers who begin employment 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 available for employers seeking to hire H-2B workers during the second half of the fiscal year. However, unused H-2B numbers from one fiscal year do not carry over into the next,” USCIS said.

Workers who are exempt from the H-2B cap are:

  • H-2B workers in the United States or abroad who have been previously counted towards the cap in the same fiscal year;
  • Current H-2B workers seeking an extension of stay;
  • Current H-2B workers seeking a change of employer or terms of employment;
  • Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and
  • H-2B workers performing labor or services from November 28, 2009, until December 31, 2019, in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam.

Additionally, the spouse and children of H-2B workers classified as H-4 nonimmigrants are not counted against this cap.

Now that the H-2B cap has been reached, USCIS can only accept petitions for H-2B workers who are exempt from the H-2B cap. It will reject all new H-2B petitions that request an employment start date before October 1, 2015, and were received after March 26, 2015.

USCIS will continue to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. This includes petitions filed on behalf of the following beneficiaries:

  • H-2B workers in the United States or abroad who have previously been counted towards the cap in the previous three years;
  • Current H-2B workers seeking an extension of stay;
  • Current H-2B workers seeking a change of employer or terms of employment;
  • Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and
  • H-2B workers performing labor or services from November 28, 2009, until December 31, 2019, in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam.

For more information about the H-2B work program, visit http://www.uscis.gov/h-2b or call the National Customer Service Center at 1-800-375-5283.

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