The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) made an announcement concerning the supplemental H-2 cap. As of March 30, 2023, the USCIS has reached the cap for workers returning in the early second half of the 2023 fiscal year. This cap encompasses 16,500 H-2B visas for returning employees starting between April 1 and May 14, 2023.
These additional visas come from a joint temporary final rule issued by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in late 2022. As a result, the final rule increased 2023’s available H-2B visas from 66,000 to 130,716 for the fiscal year. This increase added 64,716 H-2B visas beyond the regular annual cap.
This rule divides the additional H-2B visas into four distinct allotments throughout the fiscal year. The first allotment gets an additional 18,216 for the first half of the 2023 fiscal year, and the second gets 16,500 for April 1 to May 14. The third receives 10,000 visas from May 15 to September 30. The final allotment encompasses all of the 2023 fiscal year, reserving 20,000 visas for nationals of El Salvador, Haiti, Guatemala, and Honduras (Northern Central American countries).
The USCIS offers alternatives for employers with workers not selected within the H-1B cap. For example, the USCIS encourages them to apply under separate allotments for Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras nationals. According to the USCIS, these workers have the potential for selection of a petition under any of these groups.
Beginning April 13, 2023, employers may start petitioning for H-2B workers for the late second half of the fiscal year. This timeframe would affect workers starting between May 15 and September 30. These H-2B visas apply to returning workers who held H-2B status in any fiscal year between 2020 and 2022, regardless of nationality or country of origin.
Employers hiring foreign national workers via the H-2B cap or other employment-based visas must remember to complete the employment eligibility verification process (Form I-9). Employers must have completed forms for all employees. Unfortunately, the variety of documentation that workers can present can quickly become complex. The best way to ensure compliance is with an electronic I-9 management tool which can help ensure uniform and accurate completion of every form.
Learn more about automating your employment eligibility verification and ensuring compliance with I-9Compliance.