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US H-2B visas still available for any type of work

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The H-2B visa can be used for any type of work both skilled and unskilled in the following circumstances:

  • U.S. employers can use the H-2B to employ temporary workers to deal with peak load, seasonal or intermittent needs.
  • U.S. employers can also use the H-2B to employ temporary workers due to a one-time occurrence.

H-2B workers are frequently used to fill labor needs in occupational areas such as construction, health care, landscaping, lumber, manufacturing, food service/processing, and resort/hospitality services.

The Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2005 (SOS Act) divided the annual allocation of 66,000 visas into two halves. From FY 2010, an H-2B petition may not be filed more than 120 days before the date of the actual need for the H-2B worker's labor/services identified on the labor certification. Typically USCIS receives H-2B petitions with employment start dates in October and April.

H-2B numerical limit set by Congress:

There are 66,000 H-2B visa available each year:

  • 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning October 1 - March 31 in the 1st half of the fiscal year

  • and
  • 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning April 1 - September 30 in the 2nd half of the fiscal year.

Those who are currently on an H-2B visa who extend their stay in H-2B status will not normally be counted against the annual H-2B cap. New petitions will be counted against the H-2B cap.

On August 6 2009 USCIS announced that it had reopened the filing period for fiscal year 2009. There are still visas available for the second half of fiscal year 2009. However, these petitions must be filed and adjudicated by 30 September 2009. Therefore, there is little time in which to apply. USCIS is currently accepting petitions for the 2nd half of fiscal year 2009 and the 1st half of fiscal year 2010.

Please find below the latest USCIS chart for H-2B petitions for fiscal year 2010.

Fiscal Year 2010 H-2B Cap
Cap TypeCap AmountBeneficiaries ApprovedBeneficiaries PendingBeneficiaries Target (1)TotalDate of Last Count
H-2B 1st Half33,00011,1963,96847,00015,1648/21/09
H-2B 2nd Half33,000 (2)---------------

(1) Refers to the estimated numbers of beneficiary applications needed to reach a cap, with an allowance for withdrawals, denials and revocations.

(2) A shortfall in the 1st half would be made up in the 2nd half.