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H-2B Visa for Temporary Workers

The H-2B visa is available for employers to bring foreign workers to the U.S. to fill temporary needs in non-agricultural jobs (for agricultural job visas, see our H-2A visa page).  Thirty-three thousand visas are available every six months for H-2B workers (66,000 per year).  The following are requirements the employer petitioner must show the immigration service in order to be eligible to bring workers in on the H-2B visa:

  • The job must be temporary or seasonal in nature;
  • The job is one which the employer has not been successful in filling with U.S. workers;
  • The job being given to foreign workers will not cause harm to U.S. workers in similar positions;
  • The workers hired must be from among 58 countries designated by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Department of State to be approved for H-2B visa processing.

What qualifies as a “temporary” need for workers?

Seasonal employment is the easiest way for an employer to qualify as meeting the requirement that the hiring of H-2B workers be fulfilling a temporary need for support.  For example, an online store that needs additional help in its warehouses to support its increased Christmas season demands, would be a clear example of a seasonal need for extra workers.  Other examples include lifeguards who obviously only are needed during summer, warm weather, or tourist season, also ski-instructors for winter resorts.  Landscapers as well are only needed during spring or summer seasons.

What is the process for hiring and processing H-2B visa workers?

STEP ONE involves obtaining “labor certification” through the U.S. Department of Labor, which means proving that no U.S. workers exist for this job.  The employer must draft a job order and publish the position in the media and interview for the position, retaining certain records pertinent to the recruiting process.  Once temporary labor certification has been obtained from the Department of Labor the employer is required to carefully collect and preserve various documents for three years, including the “prevailing wage” determination, which proves that the employer is paying the market wage for the foreign workers just as if they were U.S. workers. STEP TWO involves obtaining approval from the immigration service (USCIS) to qualify the employer as a visa petitioner for foreign workers.  The labor certification and supporting information will be submitted to USCIS on form I-129.  Once approved, the business can begin to process workers abroad to obtain their visas. STEP THREE has the employer contact the Department of State “H2 Team” service center in order to schedule interviews at the local consulate or embassy where the workers are located in order for them to pass security clearance and receive their visas after which point they can travel to the U.S. and begin work.

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