U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that July 29 would be the “final receipt date” for H-2B petitions filed requesting a start date between October 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009, the first half of Fiscal Year 2009 (FY2009). The “final receipt date” is the date on which USCIS determines that it has received a sufficient number of cap-subject petitions to reach the limit of 33,000 H-2B workers for the first half of FY2009. Cap-subject filings accelerated during the last few weeks of July, with over 16,000 of the available 40,000 beneficiary requests occurring between July 18 and July 29. The overall demand for H-2B workers seems to be increasing each year, with FY2008’s first half cap not being reached until September 27. Note that not all H-2B petitions are subject to the congressionally mandated biannual H-2B cap, including petitions filed to extend the stay of a current H-2B worker in the United States. Visit the USCIS website for more information on the H-2B cap count.

In other H-2B news, USCIS announced on August 15 additional proposals that would refine regulations governing the H-2B program. This supplements proposed H-2B regulations discussed in the July Immigration eAuthority. Among other things, the August 15 proposed regulation adds protections for H-2B workers including a requirement of employer attestations on the scope of the H-2B employment and the use of recruiters to locate H-2B workers. The proposed regulations also purport to “crack down” on employers and recruiters that impose fees on prospective H-2B workers in connection with or as a condition of an offer of H-2B employment. Please refer to the USCIS press release for a summary of the latest proposed regulatory changes.