Cap for US Temporary Overseas Worker Visa Now Reached for 2015

by Ray Clancy on April 7, 2015

The cap for temporary working visas in the United States for the 2015 fiscal year has been reached and applications are no longer being received for those wishing to start work before October.

The H-2B visa stream has a maximum limit of 66,000 and that has now been reached, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has confirmed.

visaEach year there is statutory cap on this visa stream set by Congress. It means that only temporary overseas workers who are exempt can now apply for work this fiscal year.

Those who are exempt include H-2B workers in the United States or abroad who have been previously counted towards the cap in the same fiscal year; current H-2B workers seeking an extension of their stay, and current H-2B workers seeking a change of employer or terms of employment.

‘USCIS will reject new H-2B petitions that request an employment start date before 01 October 2015 and were received after 26 March 2015,’ an official spokesman said.

He pointed out that employers may file petitions up to 120 days prior to the employment start date but USCIS will reject new H-2B petitions filed more than 120 days prior to the employment start date.

Meanwhile, USCIS is now accepting petitions from employers for the 2016 H-1B visa stream which allows them to employ foreign workers in specialty occupations that require theoretical or technical expertise in specialised fields such as in architecture, engineering, mathematics, science, and medicine for up to six years.

The cap for this visa programme for the 2016 fiscal year is set at 65,000. However, the first 20,000 petition for people with a US master’s degree or higher are exempt from the cap.

It is an extremely popular visa and USCIS often receives an excess of petitions during the first few days since the stream opened on 01 April. Last year a lottery system was used to select applicants as there were so many. The same system is likely to be used this year.

‘In order to prioritise data entry for cap subject H-1B petitions, USCIS will begin premium processing for H-1B cap subject petitions requesting premium processing no later than 11 May 2015,’ said the spokesman.

‘H-1B petitioners must follow all statutory and regulatory requirements as they prepare petitions, in order to avoid delays in processing and possible requests for evidence,’ he added.


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