The H-2B visa classification allows U.S. employers to bring citizens of certain countries to perform temporary non-agricultural jobs. The employer’s need may be seasonal, peakload, intermittent, or a one-time occurrence.
Unfortunately, like other visa programs, there is an annual cap on the number of H-2B visas allotted. A total of 66,000 H-2B visas are available per year: 33,000 H-2B visas are available for workers with employment start dates from October 1st through March 31st and 33,000 H-2B visas are available for workers with employment start dates from April 1st through September 30th. (Keep in mind that USCIS’s fiscal year begins October 1st.)
The employer’s H-2B job offer must be full time or at least 35 hours or more per week. The employer must obtain a temporary labor certification by establishing that there are no willing, able, and qualified U.S. workers available during the period of recruitment. The employer must pay at least the prevailing wage determined by the Department of Labor. The employer is liable for the reasonable cost of inbound and outbound travel and the cost of visa and visa-related expenses. The employer must provide all tools, supplies, and equipment needed to perform the job.
Spouses and children of H-2B nonimmigrants hold H-4 status and are unable to work in the U.S.
The prospective employee must be a national of a designated country. Current approved H-2B countries include: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Madagascar, Mexico, Moldova, Montenegro, Nauru, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, The Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Vanuatu.
An employee whose home country is not listed above may become the beneficiary of an H-2B petition provided he/she has an approval from the Secretary of Homeland Security who has determined that it is in the United States’ interest for him/her to be an H-2B beneficiary.
There have been recent changes to the H-2B regulations. More details on the H-2B visa program are available from USCIS’s website. In addition, successful H-2B petitions require a significant amount of strategic forethought. In doing your preliminary planning, we suggest contacting an experienced practitioner well in advance of your need.