The H-2B temporary worker visa cap has been reached for the first half of the fiscal year which ends April 1. Employers applying for new H-2B visa temporary or seasonal employees after March 15, 2016 must wait after April 1, 2016 for any approved employees to start work.
From the USCIS press release
USCIS has received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the first half of Fiscal Year (FY) 2016. March 15, 2016 was the final receipt date for new H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before April 1, 2016.
What Happens After Reaching the Cap
Except as noted below, USCIS will reject new H-2B petitions that were received after March 15, 2016 and that request an employment start date before April 1, 2016.
Petitions That Are Exempt from the Cap
USCIS will continue to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. This includes the following types of petitions:
- For FY 2016 only, workers identified as “returning workers” who were previously counted against the annual H-2B cap during FYs 2013, 2014, or 2015;
- Current H-2B workers in the U.S. petitioning 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 from November 28, 2009, until December 31, 2019, in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam.
Petitions Including H-2B Returning WorkersTo avoid processing delays, petitioners who are including H-2B returning workers on their petition must complete and include the H-2B Returning Worker Certification and are encouraged to write “H-2B Returning Workers” prominently on the envelope and any cover page. You can find more information about this in the web alert, H-2B Returning Workers Exempted from the H-2B Cap for Fiscal Year 2016.