The H-2B visa program allows U.S. employers to respond to one-time occurrences that require a temporary increase in labor forces (i.e., peak loads, seasonal needs). The H-2B visa is particularly useful in the areas of construction, resort/hospitality services, and landscaping.

Every year, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allocates 66,000 visa numbers for H-2B visas, allocating 33,000 for each fiscal half-year. As of July 30, 2008, USCIS reported that it had received sufficient petitions to meet the first half of the FY 2009 allocation. Petitions received by July 29, 2008, for employment start dates prior to April 1, 2009, would be counted within this cap. Petitions received after July 29, 2008, for employment start dates prior to April 1, 2009, will be rejected and returned with the applicable fees uncashed.

As with the H-1B CAP, USCIS will use a computer-generated random selection process for the cap-subject H-2B petitions received. Note that USCIS continues to accept and process the following H-2B petitions that are not subject to the cap: 

  • Extension of stay for beneficiaries currently in H-2B status
  • Amendments to previously approved employment for beneficiaries currently in H-2B status 
  • Request to change/add employers for beneficiaries currently in H-2B status