“H-2B Visa Applications Far Surpass Annual Cap”


“Employers in the U.S. submitted more petitions for H-2B foreign guest workers to begin work this spring and summer than are available for the entire fiscal year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services…announced.

“Petitions for 82,100 workers were filed in January for work to begin between April and October, far exceeding the 33,000 H-2B visas available during that time.

“The H-2B visa program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary, low-skilled nonagricultural jobs, primarily in landscaping, forestry, hospitality and recreation.

“Congress has set the H-2B visa cap at 66,000 per fiscal year (FY), with 33,000 visas granted for workers who begin employment in the first half of the 12-month period (October 1-March 31) and 33,000 visas for workers who begin employment in the second half (April 1-Sept. 30).

“Any unused numbers from the first half of the year can be made available to employers seeking to hire H-2B workers during the remainder of the year, but the cap for the first half of FY 2017 was met on Jan. 12, USCIS said.

“In FY 2016, the cap for the first half of the year was met March 15, and the full cap was reached May 12.

“‘I think it's…connected to the fact that Congress has not renewed the returning worker exemption for 2017,’ said Paul Mendelsohn, vice president of government relations for the National Association of Landscape Professionals…

“…The returning worker exemption allowed employers to hire H-2B workers who had come to the U.S. in at least one of the prior three fiscal years without those workers counting toward the annual cap on visas. The exemption expired Sept. 30, 2016.”

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