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What is a H2B visa?

What is a H2B visa?

If you are an employer in need of seasonal, non-highly skilled workers, and having a tough time finding people to work for you; the H2B visa program will allow you to bring workers from overseas to fill those short term, seasonal jobs.  The H2B visa program allows people to come to the United States to work in certain non-agricultural industries such as hospitality workers, construction workers, maintenance, janitorial, and landscaping.

The employer seeking to bring workers through the H2B visa program, must first establish that:  there are not enough workers in the US who are “able, willing, qualified, and available” to do the temporary work; bringing employees from overseas will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed US workers; the need of the overseas workers is temporary (whether the need for overseas workers is a one time occurrence, a seasonal need, a peak load need, or an intermittent need).  The employer must also obtain a valid temporary labor certification from the US Department of Labor prior to applying for the H2B visa.

Employers must be aware of the yearly numerical limits (or ‘cap’) imposed on H2B visas.  Currently, the government allows for a total of 66,000 H2B visas to be granted every year: 33,000 H2B visas are granted for workers who will begin employment on the first half of the fiscal year (October 1 through March 31) and 33,000 H2B visas for workers beginning employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 through September 30).  Any unused number from the first half of the fiscal year are made available for employers seeking H2B visas for the second half of the fiscal year.  Unfortunately, unused H2B visas used from the second half do not carry over into the next fiscal year.

Finally, the H2B visa process takes three steps:

  1. The employer needs to submit a temporary labor certification to the Department of Labor.
  2. Once the labor certification is approved, the employer submits from I-129f to USCIS.
  3. Once form I-129f is approved, the prospective employee(s) needs to apply for an H-2B visa with the US Department of State at a US embassy or Consulate overseas.

To summarize: an H2B visa is intended for (1) temporary workers; (2) who will not work in the agriculture industry; (3) who will work for employers who have a need for temporary employees and (4) can show that there are not enough US workers willing and able to fill the need.