USCIS announced that it has received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for FY2017. March 13, 2017, was the final receipt date for new H-2B worker petitions requesting an employment start date before October 1, 2017.
The 2016 Consolidated Appropriations Act (Public Law 114-113), signed into law on December 18, 2015, contains several provisions in Division H, Title I impacting the Office of Foreign Labor Certification’s (OFLC) administration of the H-2B temporary nonagricultural visa program.
USCIS and DHS, in consultation with DOS, have added 16 countries (Andorra, Belgium, Brunei, Colombia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, San Marino, Singapore, Taiwan, and Timor-Leste) to the list of countries whose nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2A and H-2B visa programs for 2016. The notice listing the eligible countries was published in the Federal Register today.
USCIS reopened the FY2015 H-2B cap today, and is now accepting petitions requesting new H-2B workers with an employment start date between April 1, 2015, and September 30, 2015. The agency explained that the number of H-2B visas actually issued by the State Department was less than the number of beneficiaries seeking consular notification that had been identified on approved petitions.
DOL and DHS released advance copies of two new joint rules on H-2Bs that are scheduled to be published tomorrow and will take effect immediately. The first is an interim final rule governing the certification of employment of H-2B workers and the enforcement of obligations applicable to H-2B employers. Comments are due within 60 days of publication. The second is a final rule governing the H-2B Wage Methodology. As background, on March 4, 2015, a federal district court vacated the DOL’s 2008 H-2B regulations on the ground that DOL lacked authority under the INA to issue regulations in the H-2B program. A subsequent temporary stay and extension followed, allowing the DOL to continue processing H-2B cases through May 15, 2015.