USCIS Reaches H2-B Cap For Seasonal Workers for 2016

By Peek & Toland on July 13, 2016

Employers in Texas and elsewhere apply for H-2B seasonal visas when they want to bring over non-agricultural temporary workers from overseas to fill short-term vacancies.  There is a cap on these visas, and it was recently reached, according to immigration services.

Last month, USCIS announced it had reached the sufficient number of petitions for the visas it required to reach the cap for the 2016 fiscal year. May 12 was the final day for USCIS to receive applications for an employment date that started before October 1, 2016.

cap is reached for seasonal worker visas

construction workers

Although H-2B visas are limited to seasonal workers, they are highly sought after and there is usually more demand than visas available. It can be a fraught and complex process to apply for these visas as we describe here on our website.

Congress has set the cap on H-2B visas at 66,000 per fiscal year. It breaks down as 33,000 workers who start their jobs in the first half of the fiscal year (October 1 – March 31) and a further 33,000 for those who start working in the second half of the year (April 1 – September 30).

USCIS points out any visas that are unused during the first half of the fiscal year will be available later for employers seeking to hire H-2B workers during the second half of the fiscal year. Unused H-2B numbers do not carry over from year to year.

How Some Seasonal Petitions Are Exempt from the Cap

If you are applying for these kinds of petitions, they are exempt from the cap.

  • Workers who are certified and confirmed as “returning workers” who were previously counted against the annual H-2B cap in the fiscal years 2013, 2014 or 2015, for 2016 only.
  • Fish roe processors or others involved in fish roe processing such as technicians.
  • Current H-2B workers who are already in America and are petitioning to extend their stay:
  • Workers who are performing labor or other services in the Northern Mariana Islands or Guam from Nov. 28, 2009, to Dec. 31, 2019.

H-2B returning workers should complete the H-2B Returning Worker Certification to avoid further delays in processing.

H-2B Petitions for Fiscal Year 2017

USCIS will consider H-2B petitions for a work start date on or after October 1, 2016, towards the FY 2017 H-2B cap.  These petitions will be subject to the cap.

At Peek and Toland, PLLC, helping companies and individuals to negotiate the difficult visa application process is an integral part of our work. Please read more about visa applications here and complete the form on the page to contact us.

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Citizenship and Immigration Services Reaches Statutory Cap for H-1B Visas

By Peek & Toland on May 24, 2016

It didn’t take USCIS long to reach the statutory cap for H-1B visas. The season opened on April 1 and the statutory cap of 65,000 visas had been reached by April 7.

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services stated it had received enough H-1B petitions which included regular as well as advanced degree cases to reach the statutory cap for the financial year 2017 (10/1/2016 through 9/30/2017).

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reaches the H1-B Visa cap

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reaches the H1-B Visa cap

H-1B visas are for specialty occupation workers. The number of petitions has increased steadily in recent years as the country has come out of recession and more businesses have sought to bring in skilled workers from overseas.

What Happens Post Visa Cap?

The cap was met during the first week that employers could file their petitions for 2017. Over the next few weeks, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services will hold a lottery to find out which petitions will be chosen and which ones will be rejected.

The fact the cap has already been reached for FY 2017 means it’s not too early to be making preparations for FY 2018. Petitions may be submitted no earlier than April 1, 2017, for employees who would be hired on October 1, 2017.

To find out the preparations you should make for the H-1B cap season, follow this link.

Here are some of the important things you will need:

1 A foreign credential evaluation

If you are hoping to hire anyone with an education from an overseas institution, you will need a credential evaluation. The H-1B visa classification requires workers you are considering hiring from overseas to demonstrate that they have obtained the equivalent of a U.S. bachelor’s degree.

2 A Labor Conditional Application

A Labor Conditional Application (LCA) must be filed with the U.S. Department of Labor. This has to be obtained before you can file the H-1B petition with USCIS. You should be aware that it can take as long as three weeks to process an LCA.

3 Completed Salary Negotiations

There is a requirement under the LCA that the employer in the United States certifies that the overseas H-1B applicant is to be paid the prevailing wage, as set out by the Department of Labor. Serious delays can occur in the course of salary negotiations between the prospective employee and the U.S. employer.

At Peek & Toland , we are well aware of the difficulties inherent in visa applications and the delays and pitfalls of dealing with federal agencies. Our attorneys are experienced in dealing with all of the potential setbacks and are ready to answer any questions you may have about visas. To arrange a consultation, call us at (512) 474-4445.


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