USCIS has received enough petitions to reach the cap for the additional 23,500 H-2B visas recently made available to returning workers. As the number of petitions received in the first five business days of the filing period exceeded the 23,500 limit, USCIS conducted a computer-generated random selection process of H-2B returning worker petitions received between May 19 and May 25. H-2B returning worker petitions not selected in the random selection process, and any cap-subject returning worker petitions received after May 25, will be rejected and returned, along with accompanying filing fees. USCIS will continue to accept H-2B petitions under the additional 11,500 allotment for nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti, as well as H-2B petitions that are exempt from the cap.
A closer look
Today, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it received more than enough petitions in the first five business days of the filing period to reach the 23,500 supplemental returning worker cap. As a result, on May 27, USCIS conducted a computer-generated random selection process for returning worker petitions received during the five-day period from May 19 and May 25 (no properly filed petitions having been received on May 18, the first possible date of filing). USCIS will reject and return returning worker petitions not selected in the random selection process, and any cap-subject returning worker petitions received after May 25, along with accompanying filing fees.
Returning worker petitions selected in the random selection process will have a receipt date of May 31, 2022. The 15-day processing period for selected petitions filed under Premium Processing will begin on the May 31 receipt date.
In late March, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that up to 35,000 additional H-2B visas would be made available for the second half of FY 2022, with 23,500 set aside for returning workers who were issued H-2B visas or held H-2B status in fiscal years 2019, 2020, or 2021, and the remaining 11,500 reserved for nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti, regardless of whether such nationals were previously granted H-2B visas or status. The filing period for the additional visas, which are designated only for H-2B positions with start dates on or after April 1, 2022 to September 30, 2022, began on May 18 and is to close no later than September 15.
USCIS will continue to accept H-2B petitions filed under the 11,500 supplemental allotment for nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti, as well as petitions that are exempt from the cap. Cap-exempt petitions include:
- Current H-2B workers in the United States who are the beneficiaries of petitions to extend their stay and, if applicable, change the terms of their employment or change their employers;
- Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians, and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and
- Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam from Nov. 28, 2009, until Dec. 31, 2029.
Petitioners whose workers were not selected for the 23,500 returning worker allotment may refile for nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti while visas for that allotment remain available. The final date for filing petitions for such nationals is September 15, 2022, or when the 11,500 cap for that group is reached, whichever occurs first.