66,000 H-2B nonagricultural temporary work visas are available per year. 33,000 H2B visas are available for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year, which is October 1 through March 31. Another 33,000 H2B visas are available for workers who will begin employment April 1 through September 30. The reason why the visas are split into two pools is to ensure that H-2B temporary worker visas are available for the summer seasons, as well as for the winter seasons.
The trend with the H-2B visas is similar to H-1B visas – the number of applications exceeds the number of the allotted visas, requiring the USCIS to conduct a lottery of the applications.
On February 21, 2018, the USCIS began receiving the H-2B cap subject petitions for the second half of the fiscal year 2018. During the first 5 business days, the USCIS received 47,000 temporary worker requests. Thus, on February 28, 2018, the USCIS conducted a lottery to randomly select petitions to meet the 33,000 cap. The applications that were rejected, as well as the petitions received after February 27 will be returned to the petitioners with the filing fees.
The following H-2B applications continue to be accepted: H-2B temporary workers in the US seeking to extend their H-2B visa status; fish row processors, fish roe technicians, as well as supervisors of fish row processing; and workers performing labor or services in the Northern Mariana Islands and Guam until December 31, 2019.
It is important to note that H-2B visa petitioners have an option of requesting premium processing that will begin on March 1, 2018.
If you would like to learn whether you might qualify for an H-2B temporary worker visa or need assistance with the application process, contact our immigration attorney today.