The H-2B filing period for fiscal year 2009 (FY2009) has been reopened by USCIS due to insufficient applications filed under the cap. Accordingly, USCIS accepts immediately new H-2B petitions under the FY2009 cap for starting work date before October 1, 2009.
FY2009 H-2B Numbers Are Under the Quota
On January 7, 2009, USCIS announced that it has accepted a sufficient number of H-2B petitions to meet the annual cap of 66,000 H-2B visas. However, the Department of State has received far fewer than expected requests for H-2B visas and as a result, has issued only 40,640 H-2B visas for fiscal year 2009 to date. This means that there are approximately 25,000 visas that may go unused, as they have not been granted. Because of the low visa issuance rate, USCIS is reopening the filing period to allow employers to file additional petitions for qualified H-2B temporary foreign nonagricultural workers.
FY2009 Filing Deadline Is Imminent
The normal (non-premium processing) adjudication time frame for H-2B petitions is 60 days. USCIS will make visa numbers available to petitions in the order in which the petitions are filed. However, because H-2B petitions (Form I-129) for fiscal year 2009 visas must be received, evaluated, and adjudicated on or before the fiscal year 2009 deadline of Sept. 30, 2009, USCIS cannot guarantee approval of any H-2B petition on or before the Sept. 30, 2009 deadline. Employers therefore are encouraged to file as soon as possible and to request premium processing by filing a Form I-907 and
submitting the $1000 premium processing fee, which will allow for expedited adjudication before October 1.
Petitions received on or after Oct. 1, 2009, and/or requesting a starting date on or after Oct. 1, 2009, will be considered towards the fiscal year 2010 H-2B cap and are subject to all eligibility requirements for fiscal year 2010 H-2B filings, including 8 CFR 214.2(h)(6)(iv)(D), which requires that the start date listed on the petition be the same as the starting date authorized on the temporary labor certification.
Please see a USCIS FAQ regarding this H-2B filing window reopening.