U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Reaches H-2B Visa Cap for First Half of FY 2022
On May 25, 2021, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor published a temporary final rule increasing the numerical limit (or cap) on H-2B nonimmigrant visas by up to 22,000 additional visas through the end of fiscal year 2021. These supplemental visas are available only to U.S. businesses which attest that they will likely suffer irreparable harm without the ability to employ all the H-2B workers requested in their petition.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services now has enough petitions to reach the 33,000 cap for the first half of fiscal year 2022 for the H-2B visa program that allows the hiring foreign workers.
The congressionally mandated cap on H-2B visas for temporary nonagricultural workers for the first half of fiscal year 2022 has been reached. Sept. 30 was the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before April 1, 2022. USCIS will reject new cap-subject H-2B petitions received after Sept. 30 that request an employment start date before April 1, 2022.
USCIS continues to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap.
Workers Who Are Exempt from the H-2B Cap
Current H-2B workers in the United States who extend their stay, change employers, or change the terms and conditions of their employment; Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians, and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam from Nov. 28, 2009, until Dec. 31, 2029.
Generally, workers in the United States in H-2B status who extend their stay, change employers, or change the terms and conditions of employment will not be subject to the cap. Similarly, H-2B workers who have previously been counted against the cap in the same fiscal year that the proposed employment begins will not be subject to the cap if the employer names them on the petition and indicates that they have already been counted. The spouse and children of H-2B workers classified as H-4 nonimmigrants also do not count against this cap.
Once the H-2B cap is reached, USCIS may only accept petitions for H-2B workers who are exempt or not subject to the H-2B cap.
U.S. businesses use the H-2B program to employ foreign workers for temporary nonagricultural jobs. Currently, Congress has set the H-2B cap at 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (Oct. 1 – March 31) and 33,000 (plus any unused numbers from the first half of the fiscal year) for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 – Sept. 30).
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will not accept additional H-2B visa applications for employment starting before next April.