USCIS recently announced under an interim final rule that it will increase the cap on H-2B nonimmigrant visas to 35,000 by the end of FY 2022.

USCIS received enough applications to reach the cap of 23,500 additional visas reserved for returning workers. The agency said it is prepared to continue accepting 11,500 H-2B visa applications granted to nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Haiti. How was the 23,000 visa milestone reached so soon? What are the conditions that allow workers to continue filing H-2B petitions? We break it down in this article.

How was this additional 23,500 visas achieved so early?

In the first five business days of the application period, USICS received more applications than the 23,500 additional visas set aside for returning workers. 23,500 returning visas for FY 2022 were randomly selected using a computer-generated process. On May 27, 2022, USCIS completed the selection process in accordance with DHS regulations.

What happens to applicants who submitted their petitions after the closing date?

Any petitions for return worker allocation received after May 25, 2022 will be automatically denied to the applicant and all associated application fees will be refunded. The date for receipt of petitions accepted for processing was May 31, 2022. If the applicant has requested expedited processing, the processing time will begin on the date of receipt.

Applicants who are not selected for a return-to-work visa, if they meet the nationality requirements, may apply for the remaining 11,500 unassigned visas. The deadline for nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti to submit petitions is September 15, 2022, or when the cap is reached, whichever comes first.

Which workers are allowed to continue filing their H-2B petitions?

USCIS will accept H-2B petitions from workers in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti, as well as those who are not subject to the Congressional caps. This includes:

  • H-2B workers currently in the U.S. who are seeking visa extensions and possible changes to the terms of their employment or employer ;
  • Rave processors, rave technicians, rave processing supervisors ;
  • Workers who work or perform services in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands or Guam between November 28, 2009 and December 31, 2029.

Need for help?

More information can be found on the Temporary Increase in H-2B Nonimmigrant Visas for FY 2022 webpage. For case-specific questions or assistance in filing an application, please feel free to Schedule a personal consultation with attorney Richard Herman by calling 1-216-696-6170, or by booking online. Consultations can be conducted via zoom, skype, WhatsApp, facetime, or in office.

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