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U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services reopened the congressionally mandated fiscal year 2015 cap and is accepting forms requesting new H-2B workers with an employment start date between April 1 and Sept. 30, 2015.
USCIS’s role in managing the H-2B cap involves ensuring that enough H-2B petitions with a sufficient number of beneficiaries have been approved to fully subscribe the cap each year. It can be difficult to estimate in advance how many beneficiaries of an H-2B petition approved by USCIS will actually seek H-2B status or eventually be issued an H-2B visa by the Department of State.
On April 2, 2015, USCIS announced it accepted and approved a sufficient number of H-2B petitions to meet the congressionally mandated annual cap of 66,000 H-2B visas. USCIS says it considers numerous factors when determining how many petitions and beneficiaries to accept to fully utilize the H-2B cap. From June 3, 2014 through March 26, 2015, USCIS accepted about 3,900 petitions (consisting of about 77,000 beneficiaries) towards the H-2B 2015 cap and says it believed this was sufficient to fully utilize the fiscal year 2015 cap.
As of June 5, 2015, the DOS says it received fewer than the expected number of requests for H-2B visas. A recent analysis of DOS H-2B visa issuance and USCIS petition data showed that the number of actual H-2B visas issued by DOS is substantially less than the number of H-2B beneficiaries seeking consular notification listed on cap-subject H-2B petitions approved by USCIS. In light of this new information, USCIS has determined that there are still available H-2B visa numbers remaining for the second half of the FY15 cap.