The H-2B Visa is an excellent option for businesses that need to bring non-agricultural temporary workers into the country to fill vacant roles. The regulations surrounding this type of visa limit the total number of people that can qualify to 66,000 per fiscal year, split evenly between those who start the first half of the year (October 1st – March 31st) and those that start the second half (April 1st – September 30th).
Unfortunately, due to the popularity of the program, the cap for fiscal year 2015 was already reached on March 26th of this year. While this does present some limitations to businesses that are still looking for qualified workers, there are some exemptions to the cap that you should be aware of.
Once the cap has been reached, as it has this year, no further applications will be processed. This means if you need to bring in further employees you will either have to wait until the next enrollment period opens or attempt to find another type of visa that will meet your needs.
Who Is Exempt from H-2B Caps?
Businesses can file petitions for workers who are exempt from the cap, which includes the following categories of people:
- Return Workers – If you had a worker who had qualified for the H-2B earlier in the same fiscal year, they can return regardless of the cap.
- Extension of Current Workers – Current H-2B workers can file for an extension of stay.
- Change of Employment – Someone who is currently in the US on an H-2B Visa can switch employers or terms of employment even if the cap has been met.
Another point that is important to be aware of is that the cap is counted only against the actual workers who applied for the H-2B visa. Any spouse or children of the employees do not count against the cap.
Planning for FY 2016
If you are unable to get the employees you need right now, it is a good idea to start planning for next year. Having the applications ready to go early can help ensure your company is able to get the number of visas you require to fill your positions. While this is not an immediate solution to your staffing needs, it is a good way to ensure you’re not facing a similar problem next year.
If you need assistance with getting your applications in for next year, or you want to learn about other potential options for bringing in the workers you need, please give us a call today.