First Half FY 2017 H-2B Visa Cap Reached

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached a sufficient number of H-2B visa petitions– requests allowing foreign workers to work in seasonal, non-agricultural jobs– for the first half of fiscal year 2017. The petitions submitted for the first half of FY 2017 are those that are under consideration for employment start dates before April 1, 2017.

In a release on reaching the cap, USCIS explains the agency closed the window for accepting petitions for the first half of the fiscal year on January 10, but some H-2B categories are exempt from the cap. These include:

  • Current H-2B workers petitioning for an extension of stay in the U.S., and to change employment terms or to change employers, if applicable.
  • Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians and/or supervisors of fish roe processing, and
  • Workers who perform labor or services from Nov. 28, 2009 through Dec. 31, 2019 in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam.

In general, petitioners who want to qualify for H-2B nonimmigrant classification must establish a number of criteria. These include:

  • Insufficient number of U.S. workers who are able, willing qualified and available to do the temporary work
  • No adverse effects on the wages and working conditions of similarly-employed U.S. workers
  • Services of prospective worker services or labor is temporary, even is the underlying job isn’t considered temporary.
  • Positions that be described as temporary include those characterized as a one-time occurrence or seasonal need.

Employers petitioning under one-time occurrence rules must show:

  • A temporary event of short duration that has created the need for a temporary worker within an employment situation that’s otherwise permanent
  • No workers have been employed in the past and will not have a need to employ workers in the future in future
  • Employers petitioning for visas using seasonal need criteria must show workers are needed for the labor or service that is traditionally tied to a season based on an event or pattern and of a recurring nature.

Petitioners can’t request the seasonal need category in cases where the season is:

  • Unpredictable
  • Subject to change
  • Considered a vacation period by permanent employees.

Other temporary categories under which employers can petition for the H-2B visas include peak load and intermittent need.