U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has received enough petitions to meet the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the second half of fiscal year (FY) 2019.
Feb. 19, 2019, was the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before Oct. 1, 2019. Any new cap-subject H-2B petitions received after Feb. 19 that request employment in that time span will be rejected.
On Feb. 19, the number of petitions received surpassed the total number of remaining H-2B visas available for the second half of the fiscal year. The first half of the fiscal year was filled by the middle of December. In accordance with regulations, USCIS determined it was necessary to use a computer-generated process, commonly known as a lottery, to allocate H-2B visa numbers to fill out the rest of the cap. The lottery was conducted Feb. 21 and the petitions were assigned the next day. Premium processing service for petitions selected in the lottery also began that day.
Currently, Congress has set the H-2B cap at 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (Oct. 1 - March 31) and 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 - Sept. 30) plus any unused numbers from the first half of the fiscal year, if any. Unused H-2B numbers from one fiscal year do not carry over into the next.
USCIS continues to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. This includes petitions for current H-2B workers in the United States petitioning to extend their stay and, if applicable, change the terms of their employment or change their employers.