H-2B 2009 Still Open Season

FY-2009 is likely to be significant for H2-B, not only because it is taking center stage with H1-B number crisis, but also because of proposed changes in the current H2B process.

The FY2009 began with the good news for H-2B applicants as the quota is still available but U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) reports that applications have started to roll in more and more. The Cap Count for the first half of FY2009 stands as below

Date Filed Approved Pending Cap for first half
July 7, 2008 20,390 11,761 8,629 33,000

H-2B petitions may be filed up to six months before the employment start date, which in this will be from October 1, 2008 to March 31, 2009.

Changes Cause Worry

As we have already informed our readers in an earlier article titled “Changes proposed for New H-2B Program”, USCIS is planning a major overhaul of the H-2B visa programme. One issue of worry in that was the proposal to blacklist citizens of countries that are found to have consistently refused or unreasonably delayed repatriation of their nationals from the US. Of the eight countries named in the list, India and China are substantial users of the H-2B category and have taken the news with trepidation. The other countries are Iran, Laos, Eritrea, Vietnam, Jamaica and Ethiopia.

With the shortage in H1-B numbers causing misery to applicants from these countries already, the news that even H2-Bs can become scarce has obviously caused more worries. The upcoming elections at the national as well as state levels have also made the fate of such immigration reforms uncertain. We certainly hope that the rule-makers will consider the repercussion of such blacklisting before pushing for these reforms.