20,000+ Returning Worker H-2B Visas Revealed for FY 2024’s First Half!

Discover the latest updates on H-2B visas for returning workers in Fiscal Year 2024. Find out about the cap being reached, key provisions, and what it means for employers and foreign workers.

Cap Reached for Extra H2B Visas for Returning Workers in FY 2024

In the initial portion of Fiscal Year 2024, the limit for additional H2B visas designated for returning workers has been reached.

To fulfill the quota for the extra 20,716 H2B visas that were made accessible for returning workers in the first half of Fiscal Year 2024, with starting dates falling on or before March 31, 2024, through the H2B supplementary cap, the US Citizenship and Immigration Services has received a sufficient number of petitions.

Temporary Final Rule for FY 2024 (TFR)

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The Temporary Final Rule (TFR) for Fiscal Year 2024 outlines important provisions regarding H2B visas and their allocation.

Here are key points from the TFR:

Petition Deadline for Returning Workers: Petitions requesting supplemental H2B visas under the FY 2024 first-half returning worker allocation were required to be submitted by January 2024.

Additional Visas for Specific Nationals: An additional 20,000 visas were set aside for nationals of Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica.

These nationals are exempt from the congressionally required cap, and USCIS is still accepting petitions for H2B non-immigrant workers with start dates on or before March 31, 2024.

  1. Effective Date of TFR: The FY 2024 TFR was released on November 17, 2023, and went into immediate effect. This rule pertains to both the 20,716 returning worker allocation for the first half of FY 2024 and the 20,000 allocation for the specified nationals.
  2. Immediate Acceptance of Petitions: USCIS promptly started accepting H2B petitions for these allocations with start dates on or before March 31, 2024.
  3. Filing under Country-Specific Allocation: If your workers were denied visas from the 20,716 returning worker allocation but have job start dates before March 31, 2024, you should consider applying under the country-specific allocation. This option is available as long as there are still visas available.
  4. Visa Processing Status: As of January 12, 2024, USCIS is in the process of reviewing petitions for 4,500 workers out of the 20,000 visas reserved for nationals of Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Haiti, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica .

USCIS H1B Visa Submission 2024 (Step-by-Step)

USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) is taking steps to streamline the submission process for H1B visa applications in 2024.

Here are the latest developments:

  1. Introduction of Organizational Accounts: USCIS is set to introduce organizational accounts, making it easier for online communication and the filing of H1B applications. This change aims to enhance efficiency and facilitate interactions between corporations and their legal representatives.
  2. Preparation for H1B Cap Season: In anticipation of the H1B cap season, USCIS has announced a series of enhancements designed to improve the overall client experience. These measures are expected to boost productivity and enhance communication channels between employers and their legal partners.

USCIS Introduces Organizational Accounts for FY 2025 H1B Cap Season

In preparation for the fiscal year (FY) 2025 H1B Cap Season, USCIS (United States Citizenship and Immigration Services) is taking a significant step by introducing organizational accounts.

This development aims to simplify the process for non-cap filings and improve efficiency for H1B registrations on behalf of corporations and other commercial entities, along with their legal representatives.

Key Points:

  1. Form I-129 and Associated Form I-997: USCIS will offer the convenience of organizational accounts, allowing multiple individuals to collaborate in the preparation of H1B registrations. This includes both Form I-129, which is the petition for a non-immigrant worker, and Form I-997, which is the request for premium processing service.
  2. USCIS Director’s Statement: USCIS Director, Ur M. Jaddou, emphasized the agency’s commitment to streamlining and enhancing procedures. This move towards organizational accounts represents a significant leap forward in digitizing the entire H1B life cycle, from registration to the final decision and transmission to the Department of State.
  3. Online Filing Starting in March 2024: Organizational accounts and online filing of Forms I-129 and I-997 are expected to be launched by USCIS in March 2024. These changes will simplify the Form I-129 H1B petition process, reducing the likelihood of duplicate H1B registrations and other common errors.
  4. Transition to USCIS Lockbox: USCIS will shift the paper filing of Form I-129 and I-997 from service centers to the USCIS lockbox, further optimizing the filing process.

Additional Information:

  • USCIS will conduct two national engagements focused on organizational accounts on January 23 and 24. Additionally, several smaller sessions will be held in the lead-up to the H1B registration period. These events are part of USCIS’s efforts to standardize processes, reduce costs, and enhance efficiency.
  • The goal of these engagements is to assist organizations and legal representatives in navigating the application process. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions about organizational accounts, the H1B electronic registration procedure for FY 2025, and the commencement of online Form I-129 filing for H1B petitions during these sessions.

USCIS Encourages Attendance at H1B Registration and Petition Filing Events

USCIS strongly encourages the participation of all stakeholders involved in the H1B registration and petition filing process in upcoming events.

The invitations for these events will be sent later this month. Additional information about organizational accounts and related updates can be found on the H1B electronic registration process page.

H-2B Visa Grants Process

The process for granting H-2B visas occurs twice a year, in October and April. Here are the key steps involved in this process:

  1. Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD): Employers are required to obtain a Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) from the Department of Labor (DOL) as part of the procedure.
  2. Labor Certification Application: Employers may submit a labor certification application to the DOL, but this can only be done no earlier than ninety days before the employer’s start date of necessity.
  3. Categorization by Filing Date: Employers who file their labor certifications are categorized based on the filing date of the certification. The DOL processes group A cases first, followed by group B and group C.
  4. USCIS Application: Employers must secure their labor certification from the DOL before they can apply to USCIS. By filing with USCIS and eventually receiving a receipt notification, they reserve their position in the queue for the limited number of visas available.
  5. Visa Availability: As visas are allocated, applicants in groups B or C, whose labor certifications were filed later, may face denials from USCIS if the visa cap is already reached.

Purpose of the H-2B Program

The H-2B program was established by Congress to aid U.S. businesses in supplementing their workforce. However, various challenges and obstacles have arisen, potentially hindering the program’s success.

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