By June 1, 2021, Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had received more H-2B visas petitions than the allotted 16,000 slots for returning workers. A lottery will be conducted to determine which petitions will be accepted for processing.
DHS announced in April that it will release 22,000 more H-2B visas for the summer season. Of those, 16,000 are available to returning workers and 6,000 are allotted to nationals from the Northern Triangle countries (El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras). Petitions were accepted by USCIS starting on May 25, 2021.
The 6,000 allotment for Northern Triangle countries has not yet been met and USCIS is still accepting these petitions through July 8. If all 6,000 spots are not filled, DHS will announce by July 23, 2021, that the remaining spots will be released and available to returning workers of any nationality. DHS encourages employers whose petitions were not selected under the returning worker quota to refile for workers from the Northern Triangle.
There are certain workers who are exempt from the cap and DHS will continue to accept petitions from them:
- Current H-2B workers in the United States petitioning to extend their stay;
- Workers associated with fish roe processing; and
- Certain workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands or Guam.