As of October 15, 2018, over half of the available 33,000 H-2B non-agricultural seasonal work visas for the first half of FY 2019 (Oct. 1, 2018-March 30, 2019) have been allocated. USCIS began accepting petitions for the first half of FY 2019 in July, 2018.
H-2B visas are used particularly in Maine’s seasonal hospitality sector, but the number of visas is chronically inadequate. A 15,000 bump in the number of available H-2B visas approved by Congress to respond to the shortage of H-2B visas during FY 2018 expired on September 30, 2018. Last year, H-2B visas for winter season jobs were exhausted by mid-November. Demand this year appears to be lower, likely due to employers deciding not to use the program after successive years of being unable to rely on it with its persistent shortages of visas.
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 first half of FY 2019 can check here.