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USCIS Announces H-2B Lottery


The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”) announced today, March 1st, that it conducted a lottery yesterday, February 28th, to randomly select enough H-2B cap-subject petitions to exhaust the 33,000 H-2B visas that are available for the second half of Fiscal Year 2018.

According to the announcement, USCIS received approximately 2,700 H-2B cap-subject petitions requesting approximately 47,000 workers between February 21st and February 27th, which is more than the available number of H-2B visas. In an effort to ensure the H-2B visas are allocated fairly and do not exceed the limit, USCIS instituted a lottery, which is the first time it has done so with respect to the H-2B program.

For those employers whose H-2B cap-subject petitions were received by USCIS between February 21st and February 27th, there should be a roughly 70% chance of having been selected in the lottery (33,000 visas / 47,000 requested workers). Notices of selection or non-selection in the lottery are expected within the coming days. Petitions that were selected in the lottery will receive a receipt date of March 1, 2018. If premium processing was requested, the 15-calendar day clock will start on March 1, 2018.

Cap-subject petitions that were not selected in the lottery or that were received after February 27th will be returned along with the associated filing fees.

USCIS continues to accept H-2B petitions that are exempt from, or not counted towards, the congressionally mandated cap. This includes petitions for the following workers:

  • Current H-2B workers in the United States seeking to extend their stay and, if applicable, change the terms of their employment or change their employers;
  • Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians, and/or supervisors of fish roe processing; and
  • Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and/or Guam, until Dec. 31, 2019.

If you have questions about the H-2B program, please contact one of the immigration specialists in Koley Jessen’s Employment, Labor and Benefits Practice Group.

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