Tuesday, March 22, 2016

H-2B Cap for FY2016; Exemption for Returning Workers

On March 21, 2016, The USCIS announced that the H-2B Cap for the first half of FY2016 has been reached.  The final receipt date was March 15, 2016 for those with a job start date before April 1, 2016.  Every year, the USCIS allows 66,000 employees to enter the U.S. to work on a temporary basis through issuing H-2B visas. The first half of the fiscal year, they allow a limit of 33,000 applicants. 

The Requirements of H-2B
In order to provide proof of the above-mentioned factors, the H-2B petitioner must have received a valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor. 

In order for the beneficiary to be granted a H-2B visa, the petitioner must establish (1) there are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work, (2) employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers, and (3) its need for the prospective worker’s services or labor is temporary.

If the petition is approved, the term of this visa is no longer than one year.  However, the term may be extended for up to three years. At this time though, we do not know the exact date when the USCIS will re-open the cap and start accepting applications for the second half of FY 2016. If past practice is any indication, this usually happens in June of every year. 

Returning Workers Exempt From Cap
For this fiscal year ONLY, which lasts from October 1, 2015 until September 30, 2016, returning workers are exempt from the 66,000 H-2B cap.

A returning worker is defined as a H-2B worker who was previously counted against the annual H-2B cap of 66,000 visas during FYs 2013, 2014, or 2015. This means (1) the petitioning employer, is submitting a petition for a H-2B worker with a requested start date in FY 2016 and (2) the H-2B worker was previous issued an H-2B visa during the above mentioned fiscal years. However, in order to petition for the H-2B cap-exempt as a returning worker, there are also specific filing requirements you must follow closely.

If you are an employer with a prospective temporary employee who needs an H-2B visa to enter the U.S., contact Zhang-Louie, Immigration Legal Counsel at 978-482-7728 now to get your process underway for the next time when USCIS reopens its H-2B acceptance period in June.  Even if your prospective employee is a "returning worker" filing cap-exempt, Zhang-Louie, Immigration Legal Counsel can help ensure that the process is done correctly and successfully.  Zhang-Louie, Immigration Legal Counsel dedicates its entire practice to business immigration and will give your petition the full attention it deserves.

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