U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is no longer accepting petitions from U. S. employers seeking to hire temporary nonagricultural workers under the one-time increase to the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 H-2B cap announced in July.
For the first time, in May, Congress delegated its authority to the Secretary of Homeland Security to increase the number of temporary nonagricultural work visas available to U.S. employers through FY 2017.
After consulting with Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta, then-Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly determined there were not enough qualified and willing U.S. workers available to perform temporary nonagricultural labor to satisfy the needs of some American businesses in FY 2017. Consequently, additional H-2B visas were made available to American businesses that could establish they would likely suffer irreparable harm if they could not hire all the H-2B workers requested in their FY 2017 petitions. An additional 15,000 visas were made available under a final rule published in July. USCIS previously met the FY 2017 cap for H-2B visas in March.
Following the filing deadline guidance included in July’s final rule, USCIS has stopped accepting petitions and is rejecting any FY 2017 H-2B cap-subject petitions received after Sept. 15. With the close of the petition period on Sept. 15, USCIS has tabulated that it has received a total request of 13,534 workers.
In its commitment to protect U.S. workers, USCIS required petitioning employers to attest, under penalty of perjury, that their business would likely suffer irreparable harm if they could not hire all their requested H-2B workers before the end of the fiscal year. Some employers were also required to conduct a fresh round of recruitment efforts for U.S. workers before being allowed to petition for additional foreign workers.
Petitions that have been submitted but are not approved by USCIS before Oct.1 will be denied, and any associated fees will not be refunded.
USCIS will continue to accept FY 2017 H-2B petitions for workers who are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap.
Additional information about how the supplemental FY 2017 H-2B visas are being used, including information about the petitioning employers, can be found on the One-Time Increase in H-2B Nonimmigrant Visas for FY 2017 webpage.
The agency also continues to encourage the public to report H-2B program fraud and abuse by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.