The numerical cap on H-2B petitions was reached for the first half of fiscal year 2015 on Jan. 26, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services has announced.

This means that USCIS will reject cap-subject H-2B petitions received after Jan. 26 for employment start dates before April 1, 2015. It also means there are no unused numbers from the first half of the fiscal year that can be added to available cap numbers in the second half, which begins April 1.

Congress set a limit of 66,000 on new H-2B petitions for the fiscal year, allocating 33,000 for employment starting during the first half of the fiscal year (Oct. 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015) and 33,000 for employment beginning during the second half (April 1, 2015 to Sept. 30, 2015). Unused cap numbers do not roll over from year to year.

USCIS will continue to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from the cap, including those applying to extend H-2B status, spouses and children of H-2B workers classified as H-4 non-immigrants, and other workers specified as exempt.

H-2B visas are available for temporary workers in nonagricultural sectors and may be used for high-skilled professionals who do not fit into other categories as long as the employer’s need for the work is temporary.

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