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On August 6, 2009, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced that it was reopening the filing period for fiscal year 2009 H-2B visa petitions. USCIS stated that, despite its January 7 announcement that the department had received and approved a sufficient number of H-2B petitions to fulfill the 2009 annual cap, the Department of State has received far fewer applications than expected. To date, only 40,640 visas have been issued for FY 2009 of the 66,000 allotted by Congress.
All FY 2009 H-2B visa petitions must be received, processed and adjudicated by the close of the fiscal year, September 30, 2009. Because it generally takes 60 days to process a non-premium H-2B petition, USCIS cannot guarantee that any applications filed during this newly reopened period will issue prior to the September 30 deadline. Therefore, USCIS is encouraging employers to request premium processing by submitting a Form I-907 and a $1000 premium processing fee to expedite adjudication.
To qualify for an H-2B visa, an employer must submit a Form I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker with all required documents, including an Alien Employment Certification from the Department of Labor. The employment start date must be before October 1, 2009. Petitions received, or requesting an employment start date, on or after October 1 will be considered towards the FY 2010 H-2B cap.
The H-2B working visa is a nonimmigrant visa which allows foreign nationals to enter into the U.S. temporarily and engage in nonagricultural employment which is seasonal, intermittent, a peak load need, or a one-time occurrence.