USCIS TO ACCEPT ADDITIONAL H-2B FILINGS FOR FY 2005 AND 2006

Washington, DC - Beginning May 25, 2005, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will begin to accept additional petitions for H-2B workers as required by the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2005.

WORKERS WHO BENEFIT FROM THE ACT

The Act allows USCIS to accept filings beginning May 25, 2005 for two types of H-2B workers seeking work start dates as early as immediately:

1. For FY 2005: Approximately 35,000 workers, who are new H-2B workers or who are not certified as returning workers as set forth below, seeking work start dates before October 1, 2005.

2. For FY 2005 and 2006: All "returning workers," meaning workers who counted against the H-2B annual numerical limit of 66,000 during any one of the three fiscal years preceding the fiscal year of the requested start date. This means:

a) In a petition for a work start date before October 1, 2005(FY 2005), the worker must have been previously approved for an H-2B work start date between October 1, 2001 and September 30, 2004.

b) In a petition for a work start date on or after October 1, 2005 (FY 2006), the worker must have been previously approved for an H-2B work start date between October 1, 2002 and September 30, 2005.

c) If a petition was approved only for "extension of stay" in H-2B status, or only for change or addition of employers or terms of employment, the worker was not counted against the numerical limit at that time and, therefore, that particular approval cannot in itself result in the worker being considered a "returning worker" in a new petition. Any worker not certified as a "returning worker" will be subject to the numerical limitation for the relevant fiscal year.

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Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2005-H2B Visa Relief

The H-2B visa enables US businesses and agents to fill temporary needs for nonimmigrant workers. The "Save Our Small Businesses and Seasonal Businesses Act of 2005" that was part of the Emergency Supplemental Appropriations Package (H.R. 1268) signed into law by President Bush on May 11, 2005 restructures the way these nonimmigrant workers are counted against the annual 66,000 numerical cap on H-1B visa. This legislation is a much needed relief for employers who hire temporary nonimmigrant seasonal works in light of the fact that the numerical cap for H-2B visas was reached in both the 2004 and 2005 fiscal years. This new emergency legislation addresses the problem of the H2B cap by introducing a similar procedure to that of the H-1B cap to count nonimmigrant workers against the cap. As per the new regulations, a "returning worker" is not counted against the cap each time a case is filed for him or her.

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