The USCIS has announced that they have reached the cap for the additional 18,216 H-2B visas that were made available for returning workers for the first half of FY 2023 who had start dates on or before March 31, 2023. However, they are continuing to accept petitions for H-2B nonimmigrant workers that fall under the 20,000 visas specifically available for nationals of Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.
What is the H-2B Program?
The H-2B program allows employers to temporarily hire non-citizens for nonagricultural jobs in the US for a limited time period. Typically, it is needed for peak load or seasonal needs by the employer. In order to petition for employees, the employer must show that they will suffer irreparable harm without the ability to employ H-2B workers. They also need to show that there are not enough U.S. workers who could fill their temporary open positions.
What was the H-2B Supplemental Cap Temporary Final Rule?
The additional petition cap was announced in the recent H-2B supplemental cap temporary final rule In December 2022, when the DHS and DOL made 64,716 additional H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker visas available for FY 2023.
For the first half of FY 2023, there were 18,216 H-2B visas immediately available for returning workers regardless of country of nationality. Petitions for this first batch were filed starting December 15, 2022. The cap for this first batch of visas has been filled.
For the early second half of FY 2023, which will be for employment start dates from April 1, 2023 to May 14, 2023, there will be an additional 16,500 visas available to returning workers regardless of country of nationality. Employers must file these petitions no earlier than 15 days after the second half statutory cap is reached.
The last batch will be in the late second half of FY 2023, with 10,000 visas available to returning workers regardless of country of nationality. The employment start dates for this batch is from May 15, 2023 to September 30, 2023. Petitions must be filed by employers no earlier than 45 days after the second half statutory cap is reached.
What if My Petition was Not Chosen in the First Half Batch?
If you had petitions for workers in the first batch of available visas that were not accepted, the USCIS encourages you to file under the Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras allotment while visas remain available. They have currently only received petitions for 4,260 workers under this category, which is allotted 20,000 visas.
There are also visas available that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap, which includes petitions for:
- Current H-2B workers in the US that are petitioning to extend their stay and change the terms or their employment or employer
- Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians, and/or supervisors of fish roe processing
- Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam (until Dec. 31, 2029)
Petitions for the next start dates of April 1 to May 14 are currently being accepted. Petitions received after January 30, 2023, that have start dates for on or before March 31, 2023 will be rejected along with any fees paid.
For more information on the additional H-2B cap visas available and how to petition, visit the Temporary Increase in H-2B Nonimmigrant Visas for FY 2023 page on the USCIS website.