The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on Thursday that it has reached the H-2B cap for the FY 2018.
“Dec. 15, 2017, was the final receipt date for new H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before April 1, 2018,” USCIS said in a press statement. “USCIS will reject new cap-subject H-2B petitions received after Dec. 15 that request an employment start date before April 1, 2018.”
The immigration agency, however, is still accepting petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. These include: “Current H-2B workers in the United States petitioning to extend their stay and, if applicable, change the terms of their employment or change their employers; 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, 2019,” according to the statement.
It is also accepting the cap-subject petitions for the second half of the fiscal year 2018 for the employment starting on or after April 1, 2018. This work-visa program allows employers to bring foreign workers for temporary nonagricultural jobs. The cap for the program is set at 66,000 for each fiscal year. Of these, 33,000 for workers to begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (October 1 – March 31) and 33,000 for workers who start work in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 – September 30).
This work-visa program is for low-wage foreign workers. In July this year, Trump administration expressed a need for more nonagricultural foreign workers and announced a one-time increase of 15,000 additional visas. Spouse of H-2B worker and unmarried children (under 21 years of age) can accompany him/her on an H-4 visa but are not eligible for employment in the US. Unlike H-1B program, an H-2B beneficiary can stay in the country for a maximum of three-year duration and has to depart and remain outside of the US for an “uninterrupted period of 3 months before seeking readmission as an H-2B nonimmigrant,” the USCIS-website specifies.