H-2B cap limit reached for first half of fiscal year

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will now reject new cap-subject H-2B petitions requesting employment that starts before April 1, 2019.

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December 17, 2018

WASHINGTON — U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has reached the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the first half of fiscal year 2019.

Dec. 6, 2018, was the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before April 1, 2019. USCIS will reject new cap-subject H-2B petitions received after Dec. 6 that request an employment start date before April 1, 2019.

On Dec. 6, 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. USCIS used a computer-generated process, commonly known as a lottery, to fairly allocate the H-2B visas granted. 

USCIS continues to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. This includes the following types of petitions:

  • Current H-2B workers in the United States petitioning to extend their stay and, if applicable, change the terms of their employment or change their employers;
  • Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians, and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and,
  • Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam from Nov. 28, 2009, until Dec. 21, 2029.

U.S. 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 (Oct.1 - March 31) and 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 - Sept. 30).