USCIS Reaches H2-B Cap For Seasonal Workers for 2016


Employers in Texas and elsewhere apply for H-2B seasonal visas when they want to bring over non-agricultural temporary workers from overseas to fill short-term vacancies.  There is a cap on these visas, and it was recently reached, according to immigration services.

Last month, USCIS announced it had reached the sufficient number of petitions for the visas it required to reach the cap for the 2016 fiscal year. May 12 was the final day for USCIS to receive applications for an employment date that started before October 1, 2016.

Although H-2B visas are limited to seasonal workers, they are highly sought after and there is usually more demand than visas available. It can be a fraught and complex process to apply for these visas as we describe here on our website.

Congress has set the cap on H-2B visas at 66,000 per fiscal year. It breaks down as 33,000 workers who start their jobs in the first half of the fiscal year (October 1 – March 31) and a further 33,000 for those who start working in the second half of the year (April 1 – September 30).

USCIS points out any visas that are unused during the first half of the fiscal year will be available later for employers seeking to hire H-2B workers during the second half of the fiscal year. Unused H-2B numbers do not carry over from year to year.

How Some Seasonal Petitions Are Exempt from the Cap

If you are applying for these kinds of petitions, they are exempt from the cap.

  • Workers who are certified and confirmed as “returning workers” who were previously counted against the annual H-2B cap in the fiscal years 2013, 2014 or 2015, for 2016 only.
  • Fish roe processors or others involved in fish roe processing such as technicians.
  • Current H-2B workers who are already in America and are petitioning to extend their stay:
  • Workers who are performing labor or other services in the Northern Mariana Islands or Guam from Nov. 28, 2009, to Dec. 31, 2019.

H-2B returning workers should complete the H-2B Returning Worker Certification to avoid further delays in processing.

H-2B Petitions for Fiscal Year 2017

USCIS will consider H-2B petitions for a work start date on or after October 1, 2016, towards the FY 2017 H-2B cap.  These petitions will be subject to the cap.

At Peek and Toland, PLLC, helping companies and individuals to negotiate the difficult visa application process is an integral part of our work. Please read more about visa applications here and complete the form on the page to contact us.

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