Immigration Update: H-2B Visa Applications

USCIS_logoDo the immigration laws governing H-2B category visas need to be reformed? The U.S. Chamber of Commerce says, “yes.”  According to the Chamber, H-2B workers are employed mostly in landscaping, seasonal hospitality, and seasonal construction businesses, as well as in manufacturing, food packaging and processing, fisheries, and retail.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announced today that yesterday was the “final receipt date” for applications for new H-2B worker petitions for work start dates before April 1, 2009. H-2B visas are for non-agricultural temporary and seasonal workers. Such workers need not possess any special skills.

Congress imposed a cap of 33,000 workers on the number of petitions that may be granted for the first half of 2009. The USCIS will make a random selection from among the petitions that are subject to the cap that were received before July 29, 2008, and will reject all new applications for workers with requested start dates before April 1, 2009. Petitions that are not among those randomly selected will be returned and the associated fees will be refunded.

The cap has been met for the last two years in a row, which the Chamber says is an indication that the current immigration law needs reform. The cap has not been increased since the law creating the H-2B visa category was enacted in 1990.