Connecticut, US

Jun 10 2019

Cap for Additional FY 2019 H-2B Visas Reached on June 5

United States

At a glance

  • USCIS reached the numerical limit for additional FY 2019 H-2B visas on June 5, and will return any petitions received after that date.
  • The 30,000 additional H-2B visas were depleted one month after employers were authorized to begin filing petitions.
  • No further H-2B visas will be available for FY 2019, which ends on September 30, 2019.

The issue

On June 5, 2019, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reached the cap for the additional 30,000 FY 2019 H-2B visas authorized earlier this year. The agency will reject and return any H-2B cap-subject petitions received after June 5, along with any filing fees. 

The additional H-2B numbers were authorized by Congress in its Department of Homeland Security (DHS) FY 2019 spending package, passed in February. The legislation allowed DHS to increase the H-2B cap above the standard 66,000 annual limit for just this fiscal year if, in consultation with the Department of Labor (DOL), it determined there were not enough U.S. workers to meet the needs of American businesses for temporary non-agricultural work. The additional H-2B visas are only available to foreign nationals who have held H-2B status in one of the last three fiscal years.

In May, DHS authorized 30,000 additional H-2B numbers, and began accepting qualifying petitions on May 8. Employers were authorized to submit petitions until the 30,000 numerical limit was reached, or until September 16, 2019, whichever came earlier. Last year, when only 15,000 additional H-2B visas were authorized, demand for the extra numbers resulted in USCIS conducting a lottery to select cases for adjudication.

USCIS continues to accept H-2B petitions not subject to the cap, including those on behalf of current H-2B workers in the U.S. filing extensions of stay, changes of employer, or amendments.

What it means

Qualifying H-2B petitions received by USCIS on or before June 5 will be adjudicated by the agency. Employers who filed their petitions with premium processing requests will receive an approval, denial, or request for evidence within 15 days of receipt.

Additional H-2B visas will not be available for the remainder of FY 2019. For FY 2020, additional H-2B numbers above the annual 66,000 cap will not be available unless cap relief is again authorized by Congress and the relevant agencies.

This alert is for informational purposes only. If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.