One of the most popular and efficient ways to visit and work in the United States, or to employ foreign workers for assistance during seasonal peaks, is through the H-2B visa program. This program allows American businesses to employ foreign workers to do temporary, non-agricultural jobs.

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There are, however, several restrictions to the H-2B visa program, including a cap on the number of visas that are available each year. If you are considering applying for an H-2B visa, or if you wish to employ workers under this program, then it is important to understand what this cap is and who has exemption from it.

If you have questions related to immigration or deportation in the United States, then the O’Brien Law Group can help. A Louisville deportation lawyer from our firm will evaluate your goals and help you navigate the legal system. Call us at 502-400-7890 to schedule an appointment.

Until then, read on to learn about the H-2B visa cap and possible exemptions:

Understanding the Cap

According to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, there is a numerical cap on the total number of foreign people who can receive an H-2B visa each year. The government has placed this cap at 66,000 for the current fiscal year, with 33,000 available in each half of the year. The half-year division runs from October to March and April to September.

If there are visas remaining from the first half of the year, employers may utilize these in the second half. Visas not used by the end of the second period of the year will not carry over to the following year.

The USCIS will reject any new H-2B petitions after the cap has been reached – with the exception of a few exemptions.

H-2B Visa Exemptions

The UCIS will continue to accept H-2B petitions that have an exemption from the cap. There are several groups that may qualify:

  • H-2B visa holders who are already in the United States or are abroad who counted toward the cap in the same year;
  • H-2B workers who wish to extend their stay;
  • And current H-2B workers who wish to change employers.

There are also certain exemptions that apply to specific industries or locations. For example, many people in the fish roe processing industry, and those in Guam or the Northern Mariana Islands, are exempt from the cap.

The children and spouse of H-2B workers who are in the United States on an H-4 nonimmigrant visa may also remain in the country if they are legally allowed to do so. They do not count against the cap.

If you would like to live and work in the United States, then an H-2B visa may be a viable option to consider. At the O’Brien Law Group, we can evaluate your immigration concerns and help you avoid mistakes that could compromise your interests. Call us today at 502-400-7890 to schedule a consultation with a Louisville immigration attorney..

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