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Immigration Law

USCIS Runs Out of "Extra" H-2B Visas...in Five Days

USCIS, June 3, 2021

"Under the recently announced H-2B supplemental cap temporary final rule, USCIS has received enough petitions to reach the cap for the additional 16,000 H-2B visas made available for returning workers only. We continue to accept petitions for H-2B nonimmigrant workers for the additional 6,000 visas allotted for nationals of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador (collectively called the Northern Triangle).

We began accepting H-2B petitions on May 25 under the temporary final rule increasing the cap by up to 22,000 additional H-2B nonimmigrant visas through the end of fiscal year (FY) 2021. Of the 22,000 additional visas, 16,000 were available only for returning workers. The remaining 6,000 visas are initially set aside for nationals from the Northern Triangle who are exempt from the returning worker requirement.

In the first five business days of filing, we received petitions for more beneficiaries than the additional 16,000 visas made available for H-2B returning workers. In accordance with DHS regulations, we used a computer-generated process to conduct a random selection of petitions to meet the 16,000 returning worker allotment for FY 2021. The random selection included all H-2B cap-subject petitions filed under the H-2B returning worker allotment that were received between May 25 and June 1. We will reject and return any cap-subject petitions for H-2B returning workers (not including those filed under the Northern Triangle allotment) received after June 1, together with any accompanying filing fees.

Petitioners whose workers were not selected for the 16,000 returning worker allotment are encouraged to refile for workers from the Northern Triangle countries while visas for that allotment remain available. The final date for filing petitions requesting Northern Triangle nationals who are exempt from the returning worker requirement is July 8, 2021. If fewer than 6,000 beneficiaries are requested toward the visas set aside for nationals of the Northern Triangle countries, we will announce by July 23, 2021, that the remaining visa numbers will be made available to beneficiaries regardless of nationality, subject to the returning worker limitation.

We will continue to accept H-2B petitions for workers filing under the Northern Triangle allotment, as well as those that are exempt from the congressionally mandated cap. This includes petitions for:

  • Current H-2B workers in the United States petitioning to extend their stay and, if applicable, change the terms of their employment or change their employers;
  • Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians, and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and
  • Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam from Nov. 28, 2009, until Dec. 31, 2029.

Additional information on the FY 2021 supplemental visas is available on the Temporary Increase in Nonimmigrant H-2B Visas for FY 2021 page."