USCIS Looking for Numbers on H-2B Employees for 2017

The United States Customs and Immigration Service (USCIS) has put a call out to prospective H-2B employers seeking to hire potential returning foreign national workers, with employment start dates in the fiscal year 2017. Employers are encouraged to identify those employees by providing the Returning Worker Certification in an effort to streamline the Cap Counting process for H-2B Visas for the 2017 fiscal year.

The H-2B Visa is directed towards employers wishing to hire foreign nationals for employment in the United States in order to fill nonagricultural temporary positions.  The objective is to allow employers to address labor shortages in a peak load, seasonal or intermittent period.

USCIS is calling for employers to act now because the H-2B returning worker provisions of the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2016 (Public Law 114-113), which allowed exemptions for certain returning workers from inclusion in the 2016 Cap Counting, if they were included in the Cap Count for the period, 2013 to 2015, is set to expire Sept. 30th.

It is said that USCIS is already receiving H-2B applications for 2017 start work dates, and by collecting the information on potential worker exemptions as early as possible, they will be in a better position to track applications.

At this time, USCIS suggests no indication of whether or not H-2B workers already exempt, or included in the Cap Count for 2016, will be excluded from the Cap Count for the 2017 fiscal year. USCIS is asking for employers to identify those workers eligible for an exemption to be prepared in the event that a further exemption is approved beginning October 1, 2016.

The present Cap for H-2B Visas is 66,000. Any reauthorization and ability of USCIS to allocate returning applications correctly will free up H-2B Visa spaces for new workers, to the benefit of many US employers.