After receiving a surge of petitions, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced today that, as of January 7, 2009, it had received enough H-2B petitions to reach the 33,000 cap for the second half of Fiscal Year 2009. The agency determined that January 7 was the “final receipt date” for cap-subject H-2B petitions requesting employment start dates on or after April 1, 2009. As such, cap-subject H-2B petitions that are received after January 7, 2009 will be rejected.
USCIS will continue to accept cap-exempt H-2B petitions with employment start dates in the second half of FY 2009, including extension requests for current H-2B workers, and petitions requesting changes of employer or additional employers.
If USCIS deems it necessary, petitions received on January 7 will be entered into a computerized lottery that will randomly select the exact number of petitions needed to meet the H-2B cap for the second half of the fiscal year. If USCIS conducts the lottery, it will reject those cap-subject petitions not selected and return the fees for those petitions.
USCIS had stated that it would accept H-2B petitions for 50,000 beneficiaries — significantly more than the cap-figure of 33,000 — to account for cases that are ultimately denied, withdrawn, or revoked, as well as cases in which employers actually employ fewer workers than requested. It is unclear if USCIS actually accepted petitions for 50,000 H-2B beneficiaries. The 50,000 figure was an estimate and was subject to change by the agency.
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