U.S. visa in a passport macro
U.S. visa in a passport macro

H-2B workers who return to the U.S. for work are exempt from the fiscal year (FY) 2016 annual H-2B visa cap, according to a recent announcement from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Every year since 2013, the H-2B visa cap has limited the number of these visas that can be issued to 66,000.

Understanding the New Exemption Status & When It Applies

Typically, an H-2B worker returning to the U.S. refers to an undocumented foreign national who has previously been counted against the annual H-2B cap. The following highlights just some of the more common situations in which the H-2B exemption would apply:

  • For employers who have submitted petitions requesting an H-2B/foreign national worker for employment (starting no earlier than October 1, 2015 and no later than September 30, 2016), these workers will only be considered exempt if they have previously worked for that employer on an H-2B visa between October 1, 2012 and September 30, 2015.
  • If you are a current foreign national who is already working in the U.S. on H-2B status and wishes to continue your visit, switch employment, or change positions with your current employer, the exemption automatically applies. In other words, there’s no need to request an additional extension as a returning H-2B worker.
  • The exemption also applies to H-2B workers who have been previously counted towards the FY 2016 cap (i.e., cap exempt employees), as well as the spouses and children of H-2B workers (who are classified as H-4 nonimmigrants and are not counted towards the cap).

Workers Who Are Generally Exempt from the H-2B Cap

The following lists the type of workers who are usually exempt from the H-2B cap:

  • Workers involved in fish roe processing, including supervisors, technicians, and processors
  • Laborers or service specialists in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam (between November 28, 2009 to December 31, 2019)
  • Workers in FY 2016 who have been previously counted against the cap and who are identified as returning workers at any point between FYs 2013 to 2015.

Contact a Los Angeles Immigration Lawyer at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C.

Is your H-2B work visa set to expire? Or do you need any help securing a visa or obtaining a status change in the U.S.? If so, it’s time to contact a Los Angeles immigration attorney at the Hanlon Law Group, P.C. Our lawyers are focused on representing foreign nationals who need help resolving any immigration matters, and we will work relentlessly to help our clients obtain the best possible outcomes to their cases.

To learn more about our citizenship, immigration and deportation defense services, contact us today by calling (626) 684-3712 or (866) 227-5527 or by emailing us using the form at the upper right-hand side of the screen. From our office in Pasadena, we serve clients throughout the Los Angeles area, across the state of California and from around the world.