USCIS No Longer Accepting Petitions for One-Time Increase to H-2B Temporary Nonagricultural Visa Program Cap
This article was prepared with the assistance of ABIL, the Alliance of Business Immigration Lawyers, of which Laura Danielson is an active member.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced on September 19, 2017, that it is no longer accepting petitions from U.S. employers seeking to hire temporary nonagricultural workers under the one-time increase to the fiscal year (FY) 2017 H-2B cap announced in July 2017.
In May, Congress temporarily delegated its authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security to increase the number of temporary nonagricultural work visas available to U.S. employers through FY 2017. Then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly determined that there were not enough qualified and willing U.S. workers available to perform temporary nonagricultural labor to satisfy the needs of some U.S. businesses in FY 2017. Consequently, additional H-2B visas were made available to U.S. businesses that could establish they would likely suffer irreparable harm if they could not hire all the H-2B workers requested in their FY 2017 petitions. Some employers were also required to conduct a fresh round of recruitment efforts for U.S. workers before being allowed to petition for additional foreign workers. An additional 15,000 visas were made available under a final rule published in July.
Following the filing deadline guidance included in July's final rule, USCIS has stopped accepting petitions and is rejecting any FY 2017 H-2B cap-subject petitions received after September 15, 2017. With the close of the petition period on September 15, USCIS announced that it has received a total request for 13,534 workers.
Petitions that have been submitted but are not approved by USCIS before October 1, 2017, will be denied, and any associated fees will not be refunded, USCIS said.
USCIS will continue to accept FY 2017 H-2B petitions for workers who are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap.
The USCIS announcement can be found here. Additional information about how the supplemental FY 2017 H-2B visas are being used, including information about the petitioning employers, is located here. The July final rule can be read here.