US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has started to receive H-2B US visa cap-subject petitions for the latter half of the 2018 fiscal year. USCIS received around 2700 H-2B US visa cap-subject petitions in the first five days of the period, with around 47,000 workers requested, which is far greater than the number of available H-2 US visas.
Because of this US Citizenship and Immigration Services chose to conduct a lottery on 28 February, in accordance with relevant regulations, to select enough petitions at random to meet the cap. USCIS will return and reject petitions, as well as associated filing fees, to petitioners who failed to be selected, together with any petitions received after 27 February.
The Department of Labor announced in January that the process of labor certification issuance was being changed, and on 7 February, USCIS issued an advisory indicating the likely need to have an H-2B US visa lottery conducted for the second half of the 2018 fiscal year. The statement also made clear that USCIS would maintain a flexible approach to the issue by ensuring the fair allocation of H-2B US visas, and that the cap would not be exceeded.
USCIS will continue to accept H-2B US visa petitions that do not count towards, or are exempt from, the cap mandated by Congress. The cap is currently set at 66,000 for every fiscal year, with 33,000 for each half.