On February 21, 2018, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) began receiving H-2B cap-subject petitions for the second half of fiscal year 2018.
During the first five business days USCIS received approximately 2,700 H-2B cap-subject petitions requesting approximately 47,000 workers, which is more than the number of H-2B visas available. As a result, USCIS, in accordance with applicable regulations, conducted a lottery on February 28, 2018 to randomly select enough petitions to meet the cap.
Unlike the H-2A Visa for temporary agricultural workers, or the H-1B multi-year Visa for professionals/students in specialty occupations, the H-2B is a temporary Visa for short-term seasonal labor in hospitality or tourism. US companies may request the labor and be entered in the lottery — if more workers are requested than the federal maximum number.
US businesses use the H-2B program to employ foreign workers for temporary non-agricultural jobs. 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 (October 1-March 31) and 33,000 for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1-September 30).
According to a 2016 report by the US Department of Labor, employers requested 4,559 North Carolina workers. Actual positions granted were 3,950 — from 137 approved/certified applications submitted by businesses. The top three cities for H-2B workers were:
- Raleigh — 308 positions — $12.52 per hour average wage
- Charlotte — 307 positions — $11.40 per hour average wage
- Asheville — 270 positions — $10.52 per hour average wage
The remaining workers were spread across the state. The top five positions filled by H-2B Visa holders were:
- Landscaping and Groundskeeping Workers — 1,741 positions — $11.86 per hour average wage
- Meat, Poultry, and Fish Cutters and Trimmers — 610 positions — $9.01 per hour average wage
- Forest and Conservation Workers — 402 positions — $11.54 per hour average wage
- Maids and Housekeeping Cleaners — 230 positions — $10.77 per hour average wage
- Dining Room and Cafeteria Attendants and Bartender — 113 positions — $10.34 per hour average wage
In 2017, the number of workers approved for NC-based companies was 1,938. (See 2017 nationwide report.) The companies who were awarded their H-2B petitions for the second half of 2018 will be announced next quarter. Basic 2018 information is available here.
For more information on USCIS and its programs, visit uscis.gov.
Source: US Citizenship and Immigration Services (nationwide & northwest)