Every year, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has a cap for visas that varies between categories. According To a release from the USCIS, the H-2B cap has already been reached. Here’s what you should know.
What Are H-2B Visas?
The H-2B program allows nonimmigrant workers to move to the United States to work. Employers may petition on behalf of the worker to reserve an H-2B visa, allowing them to immigrate temporarily.
To qualify for an H-2B visa, the employer must prove that:
- Employing an H-2B worker would not negatively affect wages or working conditions for workers already working for the company or business
- There are not enough skilled workers n the U.S. who meet the specific qualifications and experience necessary for the job
- The need for the worker’s skills is temporary even if the job would normally be full-time
The USCIS defines “temporary” job positions as:
- A position that is usually permanent but unusual circumstances have created a need for a temporary solution
- A position that will not require a skilled temporary worker in the future
- OR the position is a seasonal one
Once the employer has proven the need for a temporary immigrant worker, they must provide labor certification to complete the petition.
The USCIS establishes a limit on the total number of H-2B visas for approval each year. Currently, the cap is set at 66,000 visas per year, with 33,000 set aside for workers who work in the first half of the year and 33,000 for the second half of the year.
The first half of the fiscal year is October 1-March 31, while the second half is April 1-September 30. If any visas are left over from the first half of the year, they will be transferred to the second half. In other words, if there are extra H-2B visas after March 31, they will be added to the total cap for April 1-September 30.
Once the cap is reached, the USCIS will not accept H-2B petitions unless the worker is exempt from the cap limit. Exempt workers include fish roe workers or those performing labor services in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or Guam.
Cap for 2022
According to the USCIS, the H-2B cap has been reached for the first half of 2022. This means that the USCIS will no longer accept petitions for work positions between October 1-March 31.
If you are an employer or worker looking to get an H-2B visa for a work period before March 31, you may need to wait for next year. There is no news to suggest that Congress will increase the cap, so the only thing left to do is wait.
For immigration and legal counsel, contact Sintsirmas & Mueller Co. L.P.A.