Business owners or managers hoping to use foreign workers on the job would be wise and effective in making such plans if they know and understand the laws for hiring temporary workers who are not U.S. citizens. For nonimmigrant workers, those who are eligible for temporary work that is not agricultural, the H-2B classification may be the most appropriate route. However, for the year 2021, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has already received significantly more applications for the H-2B program than there are visas available.
Congress has placed a cap on the number of H-2B visas it will issue. While this number changes periodically, the most recent number is 66,000, with half distributed in the first half of the fiscal year and the other half reserved for the second half. This half of the year does not end until March 31, but USCIS has already awarded all the allotted visas for this term. The agency will reject any petitions employers send between now and the start of the new phase.
How are recipients selected?
On the deadline for submitting petitions for H-2B visas, the USCIS placed all submissions into a computer program that randomly selected 33,000 petitions. Agents then took those petitions and began to process them. Congress determined this to be the fairest and most orderly way to allocate the limited number of visas available.
Of course, some H-2B petitions are not included in the cap. For example, if you have employees already working under the H-2B program who want to remain longer on the job, you may send your petition after the deadline has passed. Additionally, employees in specific jobs or from certain countries may also have exemptions.