The H2B non-agricultural temporary worker program has a statutory cap under section 214(g)(1)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of 66,000 H2B visas per fiscal year. 33,000 H2B visa numbers will be allocated to H2B workers who begin work in the first half of the fiscal year (Oct. 1 — Mar. 31) and the other 33,000 will be allocated to workers who begin work in the second half of the fiscal year. If there are any unused H2B visa numbers from the first half of the fiscal year, they may be added to the 33,000 allocated for the second half of the fiscal year. However, if there are unused H2B visa numbers at the end of the fiscal year, they cannot be carried over into the next fiscal year. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has updated the number of H2B visa numbers allocated and the number of H2B petitions pending through February 1, 2016 [see USCIS's update].
Certain persons who are eligible for H2B visas are not counted against the H2B cap. Workers in the United States on H2B status who do the following will not be counted against the cap:
- Obtain an extension of stay;
- Change employers; or
- Change terms and conditions of their employment.
Furthermore, under section 214(g)(2) of the INA, H4 derivative spouses and children of H2B workers will not be counted against the H2B cap.
The following categories of H2B workers are exempt from the H2B cap:
- Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians and/or supervisors of fish roe processing;
- Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam from Nov. 28, 2009 until Dec. 31, 2015 [see AFM 31.5(j)(3)]; or
- For FY 2016 only, workers identified as “returning workers” who were previously counted against the annual H2B cap during FYs 2013, 2014, or 2015.
The following chart shows the H2B visa statistics for FY 2016 through February 1, 2016:
Fiscal Year 2016 H2B Cap Counts
|Cap Type||Cap Amount||Beneficiaries Approved||Beneficiaries Pending||Total Beneficiaries1||Date of Last Count|
|H-2B: 1st Half of FY 2016||33,000||19,655||12,293||31,948||02/09/2016|
|H-2B: 2nd Half of FY 2016||33,0002|
- Refers to the total number of beneficiaries for approved or pending petitions filed with USCIS that could potentially be counted towards the H-2B cap. This number will ultimately exceed the actual cap to allow for withdrawals, denials, and approvals for which no visa is issued.
- If the cap is not reached for the 1st half of the fiscal year, USCIS will make those unused numbers available for use during the 2nd half of the fiscal year.
Source: https://www.uscis.gov/working-united-states/temporary-workers/cap-count-h-2b-nonimmigrants [link]
The total number of H2B visa numbers allocated and pending H2B petitions is still about 1,000 below the H2B cap for the first half of FY 2016. As of February 1, USCIS may still allocate 13,345 H2B visa numbers for the first half of FY 2016.