Citizens of some countries can travel to the United States temporarily to work in non-agricultural industries on H2B visas. Temporary work visas are an excellent option for those wishing to visit the United States for employment, but they are of limited duration.
This visa is usually seasonal or temporary, as it cannot be used for permanent or indefinite entry. One of such is the H-2B visa for temporary non-agricultural work.
What is H-2B Visa?
The H-2B Visa is a temporary work permit which is granted to foreign nationals who are looking to furnish non-agricultural services or labor in the United States over a specific timeframe, provided they meet the pertinent stipulations.
A total of 66,000 foreign workers are allowed to enter the U.S. via the H-2B visa annually, with 33,000 of those visas being issued from October to March. This numerical limit is mandated by the US Citizenship and Immigration Services on an annual basis.
What jobs qualify for the H2B Visa Program?
H-2B visa USA jobs are designed for specific industries where demand is high and indicates a need for additional temporary workers. Your services are considered temporary where it is performed on a;
- One-time occurrence – This means that your employer has not hired workers for similar services in the past and will not need to do so in the future.
- Seasonal need – The industry or field in which the employer is in has traditional seasonal cycles, which equally means labor shortages.
- Intermittent basis – This means that the employer does not always hire a full-time employee for this position, but will only hire a temporary employee for a short period of time.
Work fields which qualify to hire H2-B workers include Hospitality, Construction, Maintenance, Warehouses, Landscaping, Resort, Restaurant/Bar, Golf courses, Sports/athletics, etc.
Who is eligible for the H-2B Visa?
To be eligible for the H-2B visa, both the petitioner and the foreign applicant must follow some criteria, starting with a petitioner that should prove the following:
- Must be able to show that the work being performed is temporary in nature and that the work cannot be performed by U.S. citizens. This means that the job is not continuous and that it is seasonal. For example, this job could be related to hospitality (such as a hotel), construction (such as a construction site), or landscaping (such as a garden).
- The working conditions of the foreign worker will not adversely affect the working conditions of the U.S. workers in the same occupation.
- The employment of the foreign national will not have an effect on the wages and working conditions of comparable U.S. workers.
- There are not enough workers from the United States to perform the job. This means that the employer has tried to recruit workers from the United States, but no one is willing, able, qualified, or available for the job.
Aside from the employer/petitioner, the foreign applicant must also fulfill a few conditions, which include:
- You must be from one of the countries determined by the Secretary of State to be eligible to participate in the H2B visa program.
- You must have a valid job offer from a US employer to perform temporary or seasonal non-agricultural work.
- Must have non-immigrant intent, meaning that you intend to return to your home country after your visa expires.
- Must meet the minimum skills and qualifications required for the work category.
The range of documents needed varies because it is not the same for the employer as for the worker.
Before applying for a visa to the United States at the consulate, the employer must have already filed a Temporary Labor Certification with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). This Certification cannot be filed before 120 days of the projected start date of the job.
The sponsor must also submit a petition to file Form I-129 to the US Citizenship and Immigration Services, evidence of being qualified for the employment, evidence of legal status, and more (depending on the requirements as stated by USCIS).
If USCIS approves the petition, they will issue Form I-797 to the employer, this contains the dates for when the employer can hire that certain employee and when the employment terminates.
Once the employer has obtained all necessary permits and certifications, the prospective H-2B visa holder can move forward with the application process. To do so, the individual must provide the following documents:
- Online Form DS-160
- Approval notice of Form I-797 and Form I-129 from USCIS
- A valid international passport
- A passport-style photo
- Documents to prove you intend to return home once the employment finishes e.g apartment lease, property deed.
Benefits of the H2B Visa
- You get to enjoy all employee benefits and privileges upon entering the U.S. for temporary work.
- You enjoy the ease of travel inside and outside the United States.
- You can bring your dependents to stay with you in the U.S.
- You can switch jobs as long as you can show a new job offer and have a new petition filed and approved on your behalf.
Who is the H2B Visa suitable for?
A foreign athlete, coach, artists; skilled workers in trade and craft; US companies with non-agricultural skilled workers hiring foreign nationals to perform the temporary work.
Can I change my status from H2B visa to a Green card?
The H2B Visa is a non-immigrant, temporary program. You cannot directly change your status from H2B Visa to a Green Card.
Can my dependents join me?
Anyone who has an H-2B visa is allowed to have their immediate family join them by seeking admission under the H4 non-immigrant classification. That is, your spouse and children under 21 years old can accompany you.
How long will my H2B Visa last?
USCIS generally grants H2B visas up till the period the employer needs the services. Before your visa expires, you can extend your stay up to 1 year, increments for a total of 3 years. In total, the maximum amount that a foreign temporary worker can stay in the US on an H-2B visa is 3 years.
Is my country eligible to participate in the H2-B visa program?
The Department of Homeland Security has determines the citizens of countries that are eligible to get H-2B visas and this gets updated each year. Visit the USCIS website to confirm the position of your country.