The final receipt date for new worker petitions requesting employment start dates before April 1, 2017 was January 10, 2017 and USCIS is said to have received enough petitions to reach the congressionally mandated H-2B cap of 33,000 for the first half of fiscal year 2017.
The H-2B non-agricultural temporary worker program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals overseas to fill temporary jobs in non-agricultural fields of work but there is a numerical limit on the number of foreign nationals who may be issued an H-2B visa per year, which is why the cap is in place. The total allotted number for the whole fiscal year is 66,000 and it is divided into 33,000 for workers who begin their employment during the fist half of the year, and 33,000 for those who begin employment in the second half of the year.
Because the cap of 33,000 for the first half of the fiscal year 2017 has been met, USCIS will now begin rejecting new H-2B petitions received after the final receipt date requesting employment start dates before April 1, 2017, with the exception of those who are exempt from the H-2B cap:
- Current H-2B workers in the U.S. petitioning to extend their stay or making changes to the terms of their employment or employer.
- Fish roe processors, technicians, or supervisors.
- Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands or Guam from November 28, 2009, until December 31, 2019.
More information on the H-2B program and how the cap count works can be found on the USCIS website.