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Immigration Lawyer Chicago/ Non-Immigrant Visas/ H-2: Temporary Workers/ Overview of H-2B Visa Requirements for Workers in the U.S.
Suppose you are a person who lives outside of the United States in an eligible country. In that case, you can come to the United States to work a temporary job with an H-2B visa. H-2B visas are for non-agricultural, temporary workers. Find everything you need to know about the H-2B visa process on this page.
The H-2B visa is a non-immigrant visa for non-agricultural workers. These visas allow you to come to the United States to work temporary positions. To obtain an H-2B visa, your U.S. employer or agent must file Form I-129 on your behalf.
If you are a company in the United States looking to hire a foreign national, you will most likely file for an H-2B visa. Suppose you are an H-2B visa recipient or an employer filing on your employee’s behalf. In that case, you should be aware that there is a cap of 66,000 H-2B visas available to the first applicants. If you want to be granted an H-2B visa, you should apply as soon as possible.
Since an H-2B visa is for seasonal workers, there are two application periods that you can apply:
Coming to the United States on an H-2B visa provides the opportunity to work in the United States temporarily. The H-2B program is a great chance to work in industries that need workers to boost the U.S. economy and provide opportunities for foreign nationals to work legally and get paid fairly.
Types of H-2B Visa Jobs
The H-2B visa is specifically for non-agricultural workers. Any temporary, seasonal job out of the agricultural industry will obtain H-2B visas. If you are an agricultural employer looking to hire foreign nationals, you will apply on behalf of your employee for an H-2A visa.
H-2B visa jobs include positions in the following industries:
Qualifications for H-2B International Applicants
You must be from an eligible country to qualify for an H-2B visa. The H-2B Eligible Countries List can be found further down this page. You must also demonstrate that you are qualified for the position for which you are being recruited. Additionally, you must prove that you will return to your country of origin when your H-2B Visa expires.
H-2B Visa Qualifications for Employers
As an employer, you are the one who applies for the H-2B visa on behalf of your employee. To qualify as an H-2B employer, you need to prove that the work you provide is temporary. The position must fit the temporary qualifying work:
You will also need to file the following forms to be eligible:
Additionally, to hire foreign nationals, you need to prove that there are no U.S. citizens who can do the job; you need to prove that U.S. citizens are not willing, able, or qualified. To prove this, you need to show that you went through a recruitment process that offers work to be open for a minimum of 21 days before hiring foreign nationals.
Employers must also provide the following to their employees who come to the U.S. on an H-2B visa:
If you are from these countries, you can get an H-2B visa:
If you are from Taiwan or a country not on this list, talk to the experienced attorneys at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. You will need to provide additional H-2B visa requirements.
The Department of Homeland Security determines the countries on this list based on the country’s willingness and process of issuing travel documents and the number of removals issued against that country’s residents.
How Long Can I Be In The U.S. With an H-2B Visa?
You can stay in the United States on an H-2B visa for up to one year. H-2B visa holders can stay to work in the United States for the time that the temporary labor certificate allows.
When your temporary labor certificate is about to expire, you are allowed to extend the temporary labor certificate, therefore your H-2B classification, for one year. You can do it for a maximum of three (3) years. Meaning: you are only allowed to have an H-2B visa classification for three years total, including extensions. It’s important to note that if you have been in the United States on another type of H visa or L visa, your time with those visas is included in the three years of stay.
Reapplying for H-2B Visa
Even though you can have your H-2B visa for only three years, that means three years at a time, including your H-2B visa extensions. After your three years maximum stay, you must leave the United States for at least three months. After the three months outside of the United States have occurred, you can enter with another H-2B visa.
How To Apply for an H-2B Visa
There are three steps to applying for the H-2B visa:
After your employer files Form I-129 and you have H-2B visa approval, the journey is not finished yet. You will need to go to the U.S. embassy in your country and provide them with the required documents and evidence needed to finalize your H-2B visa process. Bring these documents to your U.S. embassy:
Additionally, if you are a male between the ages of 16 and 45, you also need to provide a DS-157 form.
H-2B Visa Interview
After you have turned in your required documents and the U.S. embassy has reviewed them, they will notify you of a visa interview. You will be interviewed to obtain your H-2B visa. You will receive your visa and enter the United States for work if accepted.
H-2B Visa Processing Time
Since H-2B visas are for temporary workers, it usually takes two to five months to process the application. For employers who know they want to hire foreign nationals, make sure you have all of your DOL paperwork ahead of time.
The filing fee to obtain your H-2B visa is $190.
A cap is a limit to the number of visas USCIS allows to be given out to non-U.S. citizens. A cap is a limit on the number of visas issued by USCIS to non-US citizens. The cap is per fiscal year, with two cycles each. Each fiscal year, there is a limit of 33,000 H-2B visas for every cycle. There are two cycles per fiscal year, making the total cap 66,000 visas that USCIS gives out.
The cycles are based on when workers begin their jobs in the United States.
If you apply for the first half and are not granted an H-2B visa, the application will become available for the second half of your employment type. However, this only lasts for the first to second cycle per year. The applications do not proceed in fiscal years. You need to reapply during the first cycle of the fiscal year. Pay attention to the final receipt date for each cycle. The final receipt date is the date that USCIS has reached its cap.
The primary difference between H-2A and H-2B visas is that H-2A is for agricultural workers specifically, whereas H-2B is meant for non-agricultural workers. Another significant difference is that H-2B visa applications have a fiscal cap, given twice yearly (66,000 total). The H-2A visa does not have a cap on the number of applications.
The skilled immigration visa and green card lawyers at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. have over 70 years of combined experience in immigration and naturalization law. The H-2B visa application process needs to be done on time, with all the necessary documents ready at the time of the application opening. Working with our immigration attorneys can ensure that all of your paperwork is done properly with attention to detail.
Filing for immigration forms can be complicated. Ease the stress by working with the immigration attorneys at our office. Contact us at 312.444.1940 to fill out an online contact form today.
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If you are looking for information on the H1B application, click here. H-2B is for temporary workers, so the H-2B visa switch to a green card is not an easy option. Talk to your immigration attorney at Scott D. Pollock & Associates P.C. for green card opportunities.