USCIS Temporarily Increases 2018 Cap on H-2B Visa

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The H-2B visa is a type of visa given to nonimmigrants that come to the United States on a temporary basis to perform work for non-agricultural businesses. The visas are issued on a one-time, seasonal, or intermittent basis. On May 31, 2018, the Department of Homeland Security, along with the Department of Labor, increased the number of H-2B visas they will be issuing up to 15,000.

The only businesses eligible to receive these visas are those that have claimed their business will suffer irreparable harm if they are not given the authority to hire more H-2B workers. Irreparable harm is defined as permanent and severe financial loss. In addition, only businesses that have claimed that they need additional H2-B workers on form I-129 will be eligible for these visas. Any business that has stated they will suffer irreparable harm may be asked to provide further documentation or proof to validate the claim.

The ruling does not apply to any filings that were not included in the cap final rule. This means that those that have applied for an extension of their H2-B visa will not be considered eligible, although these can continue to be filed under the standard H-2B program.

While USCIS began accepting the petitions for visas under the new final rule at the end of May of 2018, the process was stopped on June 6, 2018. This is due to the fact that a lottery was held to determine which petitions would be processed and the cap had already been filled. Those not selected in the lottery will be rejected and returned. However, those still wishing to file a petition may also do so through the standard H-2B program.

In order for a business to be eligible for an H-2B visa, the worker receiving it must have a start date before September 30, 2018, which is the end of the fiscal year. Any petitions with a start date later than this will be considered for the 2019 fiscal year. After a business has had their petition approved, the USCIS will send the visa to a consular post abroad. The worker must then obtain the visa before requesting entry into the United States.

This move by the USCIS is a good one for both businesses, and those wishing to come to the United States. Further, considering that the lottery number was reached in less than a week after the increase was announced, it is a move that was needed for American businesses requiring the help.