Popular H-2B Work Visa Reaches Limit

US Work Visa

Just one week after the first limit was hit for the popular H-2B work visa, nearly one-third (11,000) of the available visas for the second cap have been snatched up.

The first H-2B visa cap of ran from Oct. 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014, and the second one runs from Apr. 1 to Sept. 30. Both caps have 33,000 available visas. An overflow from the first cap has already taken up 11,000 spots in the second.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) halted its review of petitions for the non-agricultural temporary workers when it reached the cap on Mar. 14. The cap affects petitions received by the USCIS after Mar. 14 and immigrants requesting an employment start date before Apr. 1, 2014.

Current H-2B workers in the U.S. who are petitioning to extend their stays are not required to have a spot in the cap. Immigrants in this category include those who are already working to change the terms of their employment or working to change their employer. Also exempt from the cap are immigrants working in fish roe processing, or those who work as fish roe technicians or as supervisors of fish roe processing. Additionally, laborers and workers performing services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and/or Guam from Nov. 28, 2009 until Dec. 31, 2014 are also exempt from the cap.

The H-2B visa cap limits the number of foreign nationals who can obtain a visa each fiscal year. Currently set at a total of 66,000, Congress allocates 33,000 for each half of the fiscal year. If the cap isn’t reached by the end of fiscal year 2014 at the end of September, the USCIS won’t carry over the unused petition slots to fiscal year 2015.