The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced that on February 19, 2019 it had received enough petitions to meet the H-2B cap for the second half of Fiscal Year 2019 (“FY 2019”). February 19, 2019 was the final receipt date for new cap subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before October 1, 2019. On February 19, 2019, USCIS received petitions which surpassed the total number of remaining H-2B visas available for the H-2B cap for the second half of FY 2019, and, therefore, used a lottery to ensure the fair allocation of H-2B visa numbers to meet, but not exceed, the remainder of the FY2019 H-2B cap.
United States 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 (October 1 through March 31) and 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1, through September 30).
It is noteworthy that on February 15, 2019, President Trump signed an omnibus spending bill which includes a provision providing limited cap relief to H-2B employers during FY 2019. The Secretary of Homeland Security has yet to announce how many, if any, additional H-2B visas will be made available for the remainder of FY 2019. The spending bill provides the authority to raise the H-2B cap, upon determination that there is an economic need among American businesses for additional H-2B workers, in FY 2019 to 135,320 (66,000 cap + 69,320).
If you have any specific questions or concerns about H-2B visas or an immigration issue, please contact the Kullman Firm attorney with whom you normally work, or Patricia A. Bollman, our Immigration Law Specialist at pab@Kullmanlaw.com.