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What is H-2B Visa?

The H-2B visa category allows U.S. employers in industries with peak load, seasonal or intermittent needs to augment their existing labor force with temporary workers. The H-2B visa category also allows U.S. Employers to augment their existing labor force when necessary due to a one-time occurrence which necessitates a temporary increase in workers. Typically, H-2B workers fill labor needs in occupational areas such as construction, health care, landscaping, lumber, manufacturing, food service/processing, and resort/hospitality services.

The Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2005 (SOS Act) divided the annual numerical limitations of 66,000 into two halves. As of FY 2010, an H-2B petition may not be filed more than 120 days before the date of the actual need for the H-2B worker’s labor/services identified on the labor certification. As a result, USCIS normally begins receiving H-2B petitions with employment start dates in October and April.

What is the H-2B numerical limit set by Congress?

The H-2B numerical limit set by Congress per fiscal year is 66,000, with 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the 1st half of the fiscal year (October 1 – March 31) and 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the 2nd half of the fiscal year (April 1 – September 30). Generally, an H-2B worker who extends his/her stay in H-2B status will not be counted again against the numerical limit. An alien who changes nonimmigrant status to H-2B is counted against the annual H-2B cap.

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