The congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the first half of fiscal year (FY) 2019 has been reached on December 6, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) inform.
According to a press release of the USCIS, no H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before April 1, 2019, have been nor will be accepted after this date. It also explains that the number of beneficiaries USCIS had received petitions for, surpassed the total number of H-2B visas available for the H-2B cap for the first half of FY 2019.
“In accordance with regulations, USCIS determined it was necessary to use a computer-generated process, commonly known as a lottery, to ensure the fair and orderly allocation of H-2B visa numbers to meet, but not exceed, the cap for the first half of FY 2019. On Dec. 11, 2018, USCIS conducted a lottery to randomly select petitions received on Dec. 6.,” the release reads.
The press release also informs that premium-processing service for petitions selected in the lottery also began on that date (December 6).
The current H-2B cap has been set at 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year and another 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the second half.
On the other side, H-2B petitions exempt from the congressionally mandated cap will further be accepted by USCIS, including:
- Current H-2B workers in the United States who are petitioning to:
- extend their stay in the US
- change the terms of their employment
- change their employers
- Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians, and/or supervisors of fish roe processing
- Workers performing labor or services in:
- the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands
The H-2B program is a US work visa for temporary non-agricultural workers in US, including those working in industries as restaurants and bars, warehouses, ski reports, golf courses, construction, etc.