USCIS has announced that on November 15, 2019, the cap of 33,000 H-2B non-agricultural seasonal work visas for the first half of FY 2020 (October 1, 2019-March 31, 2020) was reached. This is more than three weeks earlier than last year. Petitions subject to the cap with employment start dates prior to April 1, 2020 received after November 15th will be returned to their petitioning employers.
Employers hoping to acquire H-2B visas for non-agricultural seasonal positions that will begin between April 1 and September 30, 2020 can start the filing process on January 2, 2020. The Office of Foreign Labor Certification will hold a webinar to “Update Stakeholders on the Process for Filing H-2B Applications With a Start Date of April 1, 2020, or Later” on December 11, 2019. Details on the webinar with a link for registration can be found here.
H-2B visas are used particularly in Maine’s seasonal hospitality sector. A 30,000 bump in the number of available H-2B visas created by Congress to respond to the shortage of H-2B visas during the second half of FY 2019 expired on September 30, 2019. Congress should enact a permanent and substantial increase in the number of H-2B visas so that employers can look to the program as one that can be relied on to meet their seasonal labor needs
Maine employers who want details about which workers are cap-exempt, or who want to check the number of H-2B visa petitions already accepted that count towards the 33,000 visa cap for the second half of FY 2020 (April 1 – Sept. 30, 2020) once that filing window begins can check here.