United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that the 33,000 H-2B visas authorized by Congress for the first half of fiscal year 2021 have been exhausted.
The H-2B visas are used to bring foreign nationals to the United States to work temporarily in industries that require more employees for a specific period of time. For example, hotel, ski resort or amusement park employees.
H-2B Visa Lottery
USCIS set November 16, 2020 as the deadline for filing new petitions for temporary nonagricultural workers (H-2B visas) who wanted to begin working before April 1, 2021.
According to USCIS, the number of beneficiaries for whom USCIS received petitions exceeded the total number of H-2B visas available for the H-2B cap for the first half of FY 2021. In accordance with the regulations, USCIS determined that it was necessary to use a computer-generated process, commonly referred to as a lottery, to ensure the fair and orderly allocation of H-2B visa numbers to meet, but not exceed, the cap for the first half of FY 2021.
On November 18, 2020, USCIS conducted a lottery to randomly select petitions from those received on November 16. As a result, USCIS assigned all petitions selected in the lottery the November 18 receipt date. Premium processing of the lottery-selected petitions also began on that date.
USCIS will reject and return all petitions that were not chosen in the H-2B visa lottery or that did not arrive on time, along with the payment of fees.
Certain H-2B visa applications may still be processed.
USCIS will continue to accept applications for H-2B visas filed on behalf of:
- H-2B workers applying to start employment as of April 1, 2021
- H-2B workers who are currently in the United States and are requesting an extension of stay that may change the terms of their employment or change employers.
- Fish egg processing workers, technicians or supervisors.
- Workers on active duty from November 28, 2009 through December 31, 2029 in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam.
Resources to combat fraud and protect immigrant workers with H-2B visas
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) formerly reiterated its commitment to investigating and combating immigration fraud in the H-2B visa program to protect authorized workers in the United States.
DHS urged the public to report immigration fraud on USCIS website and include as much information as possible to identify individuals abusing the H-2B visa program.
He also asked for the public's help in submitting reports of fraud and abuse by immigrant employers to the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division by calling 1-866-487-9243 or visiting the U.S. Department of Labor website to locate the nearest office for assistance.