Visa cap reached; petitions from Guam, CNMI still accepted

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has reached the 66,000 congressionally mandated H-2B cap for the first half of fiscal year 2019, but the federal agency will continue accepting petitions from Guam and the CNMI.

Cap exemptions apply to petitions for foreign workers who are recruited for projects associated with the military buildup on Guam. Under the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, the USCIS is allowed to issue up to 4,000 H-2B visas for defense-related work.

The NDAA authorizes $448.5 million for military construction projects on Guam to support the ongoing progress of the Marine realignment including $75.6 million for X-Ray Wharf Improvements. The law fully authorizes $141 million for a machine gun range with half authorized to be spent in fiscal year 2019.

In the CNMI, labor visa cap exemption is authorized under the Northern Mariana Islands U.S. Workforce Act of 2018, which extends the CW program through Dec. 31, 2029. The law also raises the CW-1 cap for 2019 from 4,999 to 13,000.