Three Ways to Strategize for the H-2B Cap Season 

Last Updated on March 11, 2024

The H-2B visa is a viable pathway for U.S.-based employers or agents to temporarily hire foreign nationals to fill seasonal non-agricultural jobs. However, like the H-1B visa, the H-2B visa comes with an annual cap.  

The H-2B cap, set by Congress, is currently 66,000 per fiscal year.   

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) divides the cap into 33,000 visas available during the year’s first and second half. The first annual cap starts on October 1 and runs through March 31. The second annual cap season starts on April 1 and extends through September 30.  

Any unused H-2B petitions from the first cap will be available during the cap in the second half of the year. USCIS only accepts petitions from non-cap-subject petitioners if the H-2B cap is reached during the cap season.  

When using the H-2B visa to meet growing demands for foreign workers, it’s crucial to plan ahead to secure your workforce, especially in preparation for the H-2B cap season. To help with this process, Envoy Global has the following tips:  

H-2B Cap Season Tip I: Know Your Timeline and Plan Ahead 

Image with four boxes explaining the different qualification requirements for the H-2B visa program with the Envoy Global logo in the bottom right hand corner.
If you think you qualify for the H-2B pathway, we can help you explore the next steps.

The annual cap limits the number of visas available under the program each year, and once the cap is reached, you’ll have to wait until the next cap season to apply again. To avoid delays in securing your workforce, focus on the positions you aim to fill and consider the timeline in which you need these positions filled.  

For example, if your business is unable to hireable, willing and qualified U.S. workers for landscaping roles, you will need to identify the temporary need for the workers and ensure that there is enough time to accomplish the steps and meet the timelines to meet one of the cap deadlines.

“H-2B visas are granted on a first-come, first-served basis, so it is extremely important to remain organized and prepared even in the months leading up to the cap. Not only should employers prepare for the cap timeline itself, but also consider the seasonality of the work being performed and the number of roles they expect to fill, said Velia Rosas, Attorney Of Counsel at Corporate Immigration Partners.   

Collaborating with a dedicated immigration service provider, like Envoy, allows you to better plan for the process ahead and ensures you will be prepared for all deadlines. Envoy’s experienced team will assist you in creating a comprehensive immigration plan tailored to your business’s specific needs. In addition, the team can advise on any deadline date changes and additional timeline considerations.  

H-2B Cap Season Tip II: Stay in Contact with Your Foreign Nationals 

Image of a laptop open to the Envoy Global communication center. The Envoy Global logo is located in the bottom right hand corner.
Our communication center helps employees feel at ease with direct, centralized, responsive immigration communication for all stakeholders.

Once you have secured the H-2B certification from the U.S. Department of Labor, securing and maintaining consistent and well-documented communication with foreign national employees is the next critical step in the H-2B visa process. Compliance is an integral part of any immigration program. 

The H-2B visa process is highly time-sensitive, and any delays in communication, gathering documents or submitting applications can lead to missed opportunities for you and your organization. Remaining in contact with your employees throughout the visa process ensures that everyone stays informed and completes all necessary steps promptly and thoroughly. 

Envoy’s platform sends automatic platforms and provides foreign nationals with access to your team of legal professionals, along with team members who will help answer any non-legal questions promptly. Think of Envoy as an extension of your immigration program. 

Moreover, the platform securely stores essential documents to keep you organized through H-2B cap season and beyond.  

H-2B Cap Season Tip III: Utilize Tech and Customized Support  

Graphic showing six boxes with common industries that utilize the H-1B visa category.
Intended for foreign nationals filling temporary non-agricultural jobs, the H-2B visa is a valuable pathway that many different sectors leverage to fill labor shortages.

The best way to stay ahead of the H-2B cap season is to stay organized year-round. However, many HR departments have many responsibilities in addition to managing their company’s immigration program.  

HR teams may be made up of a few or even one HR manager responsible for ensuring that their company and immigration program run smoothly. This means taking a methodical approach to maintaining documentation.  

Envoy’s platform helps employers stay organized and provides an additional support system to overloaded HR teams. Employers will not have to spend unnecessary time combing through email chains or physically storing sensitive documents.  

Regardless of whether you have a dedicated HR department or are someone taking on the responsibility of securing foreign national employees for your organization, our support team serves as an extension to your organization or HR team. The team is there to provide additional knowledge and offer insights and solutions to creating an immigration program tailored to your company’s specific needs.  

At the same time, our technology conveniently stores all necessary documents and communications in a secure platform. Once you’ve set your company’s preferences, Envoy’s support teams will ensure that all H-2B cap process steps meet your specific guidelines. These measures mean that you’ll be organized and compliant during cap season and throughout the year.  

“Compliance is essential when hiring foreign national employees. Having a dedicated support team and tech that not only tracks compliance but is also catered towards your program and its specific goals is a huge benefit for companies of all sizes”.  

– Velia Rosas, Attorney Of Counsel at Corporate Immigration Partners 

Takeaways for the H-2B Cap Season  

H-2B cap season can be stressful, but employers can avoid stress and pitfalls by planning ahead and working with an experienced immigration provider. Envoy equips you with the technology and support team that you need to thrive during this journey. 

Ready to tackle the H-2B cap season and beyond successfully? Learn more about how we can help your company during the H-2B cap season.  

Contact Us for Your H-2 Visa Needs

U.S. legal services provided by Corporate Immigration Partners, P.C., the U.S. law firm who provides services through the Envoy Platform (the “U.S. Law Firm”). Global immigration services provided by Envoy’s global immigration service providers. Content on this website is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice or to form an attorney client relationship. For U.S. legal advice, consult your attorney at the U.S. Law Firm if you have retained them, or another qualified legal professional of your choosing. For global immigration advice, please consult one of Envoy’s global immigration service providers or another qualified representative of your choosing.