Midnight of the morning of January 2, 2020 marked the beginning of a three-day window for employers seeking to use the H-2B visa program to file their applications with the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) for seasonal, non-agricultural positions with start dates of April 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020.
Within the first 24 hours, OFLC had received nearly 5000 applications for over 87,000 H-2B visas, far more than the 33,000 H-2B cap-subject visas available for the second half of FY 2020. By the end of three day filing period, that number had risen to 99,362 positions from 5,677 applications, according to the OFLC.
All applications received from January 2nd through January 4th, 2020 have been randomly selected into processing groups for review, as explained here. On January 8th OFLC will publish the list of processing group assignments, in addition to sending written notices to individual employers that filed applications.
While the administration has tried to improve the filing procedures in the past year, the fundamental inadequacy of the the visa cap continues to thwart employers who need predictability in order to ensure sufficient staffing for their non-agricultural, seasonal hiring needs.
No doubt Congress will once again, as it has in the past several years, pass legislation authorizing additional visas for the current fiscal year, but what employers actually need Congress to do is enact a permanent substantial increase or elimination altogether of the annual H-2B visa cap.