On February 18, 2020, USCIS reached the 33,000 cap for H-2B non-agricultural seasonal worker visas for positions beginning during the second half of the FY 2020 fiscal year (April 1- September 30, 2020). You can see the cap count here. Any cap-subject petitions received after February 18th will be rejected and returned to their petitioning employers.
Congress, as it has done for multiple years now, authorized a potential increase of up to 69,320 H-2B visas beyond the cap for the second half of FY 2020 in its most recent budget bill, H.R. 1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2020, enacted on December 20, 2019. Despite that authorization being approved months earlier than in prior years, as of this writing, the administration has yet to release additional H-2B visas, even though the nearly 100,000 H-2B visas requested during the first three days of January 2020 clearly demonstrated demand far exceeding the 33,000 cap once again.
As we noted here, under revised processing procedures, only about a third of Maine’s employers’ H-2B petitions made it into the first group randomly selected for processing, and it’s likely that fewer than half of Maine’s employers will receive the H-2B visas they requested.
It is past time for Congress to make permanent changes, not year to year cap increases, if employers are to be able to rely on the H-2B program for their seasonal labor needs.