According to USCIS, it has received a sufficient number of petitions to reach the congressionally mandated 33,000 H-2B cap for the first half of the fiscal year. A USCIS press release stated that July 29, 2008 was the “final receipt date” for new H-2B worker petitions requesting employment start dates prior to April 1, 2009. Any petitions for H-2B workers with a start date ranging from October 1, 2008, through March 31, 2009, will be rejected. The press release also states that USCIS will apply a computer-generated random selection process to all petitions that are subject to the cap and were received on July 29, 2008. USCIS will use this process to select the number of petitions needed to meet the cap. USCIS will reject and return the fee for all cap-subject petitions not randomly selected.


USCIS will continue to process petitions for workers who are currently in H-2B status as they do not count towards the congressionally mandated bi-annual H-2B cap. Continued processing will be available for petitions to:


* Extend the stay of a current H-2B worker in the United States;


* Change the terms of employment for current H-2B workers and extend their stay; or


* Allow current H-2B workers to change or add employers and extend their stay.


According to the Professional Landcare Network (PLANET), the closing of the cap so early is devastating for the landscape industry. Many PLANET members have already suffered significant losses this year as a result of not getting H-2B workers for fiscal 2008 or getting workers later in the spring than they were needed. Congress must act now in order to save the landscape industry and other seasonal employers from economic disaster. Companies cannot absorb two consecutive years of financial losses resulting from Congress’s failure to renew the law and provide small businesses with a reliable and legal source of seasonal labor.


PLANET is urging those in the landscape industry to call their senators and members of Congress through the congressional switchboard at 202-225-3121, and ask them to renew the H-2B returning worker exemption immediately.