Cap Count for H-2B Nonimmigrants
The H-2B Program
The H-2B non-agricultural temporary worker program allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary non-agricultural jobs.
For more information about the H-2B program, see H-2B Non-Agricultural Workers.
What is the H-2B Cap?
There is a statutory numerical limit, or "cap," on the total number of foreign nationals who may be issued an H-2B visa or otherwise granted H-2B status during a fiscal year (FY). Currently, Congress has set the H-2B cap at 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (Oct. 1 - March 31) and 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 – Sept. 30). Any unused numbers from the first half of the fiscal year will be available for employers seeking to hire H-2B workers during the second half of the fiscal year. However, unused H-2B numbers from one fiscal year do not carry over into the next.
Reporting H-2B Fraud
To report that a participating employer may be abusing the H-2B program, please email us at ReportH2BAbuse@uscis.dhs.gov. Your email should include information identifying the H-2B petitioning employer and relevant information that leads you to believe that the H-2B petitioning employer is abusing the H-2B program.
Workers Who Are Exempt from the H-2B Cap
Generally, workers in the United States in H-2B status who extend their stay, change employers, or change the terms and conditions of employment will not be subject to the cap. Similarly, H-2B workers who have previously been counted against the cap in the same fiscal year that the proposed employment begins will not be subject to the cap if the employer names the workers on the petition and indicates that they have already been counted. The spouse and children of H-2B workers classified as H-4 nonimmigrants are also not counted against this cap.
Additionally, petitions for the following types of workers are exempt from the H-2B cap:
- Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians, or supervisors of fish roe processing;
- Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands or Guam from November 28, 2009, until December 31, 2029.
Once the H-2B cap is reached, USCIS may only accept petitions for H-2B workers who are exempt or not subject to the H-2B cap.
Fiscal Year 2019 H-2B Cap Count
On Feb. 19, 2019, USCIS received enough petitions to meet the congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the second half of FY 2019. Feb. 19 is the final receipt date for new cap-subject H-2B worker petitions requesting employment start dates before Oct. 1, 2019. The final receipt date is the date on which USCIS determines that it has received enough cap-subject petitions to reach the limit of H-2B workers for FY 2019.
The number of beneficiaries USCIS received petitions for surpassed the total number of H-2B visas available for the H-2B cap for FY 2019. In accordance with regulations, USCIS determined it was necessary to use a computer-generated process, commonly known as a lottery, to ensure the fair and orderly allocation of H-2B visa numbers to meet, but not exceed, the remainder of the cap for FY 2019. On Feb. 21, USCIS conducted a lottery to randomly select the petitions from those received on Feb. 19. As a result, USCIS assigned all petitions selected in the lottery the receipt date of Feb. 22. Premium processing service for petitions selected in the lottery also began on that date.
|Beneficiaries Approved||Beneficiaries Pending|
Date of Last Count
of FY 2019
|On Dec. 6, 2018, the cap for the 1st half of FY 2019 was reached.|
of FY 2019
|On Feb. 19, 2019, the cap for the second half of FY 2019 was reached.|
1 Refers to the total number of beneficiaries of approved or pending petitions filed with USCIS that could potentially be counted towards the H-2B cap. This number will typically exceed the actual cap to allow for withdrawals, denials, and approvals for which no visa is issued.
2 If the cap is not reached for the first half of the fiscal year, USCIS will make those unused numbers available for use during the second half of the fiscal year.