The H-2B Visa, or the Non-Agricultural Temporary Worker Program, enables US-based employers to hire foreign nationals so that they can fulfill non-agricultural vocations in the United States on a temporary or seasonal basis.
Note: there is a period of stay associated with the H-2B Visa. The initial stay can be no longer than a year; however, it can be extended in increments of 1 year, with a maximum stay of 3 years. Once an H-2B Visa holder has been in the United States for a period of 3 years, he or she is required to exit the country for a period of at least 3 months before reapplying for an H-2B visa. Furthermore, all other H and L Visas are counted when totaling the time an H-2B Visa holder has been in the United States. More information regarding H-2B Visa requirements can be found here.
Only US-based employers can apply for an H-2B Visa; foreign employees cannot apply for this type of visa. In order to apply, an employer must meet the following requirements:
- Must establish a need for temporary work on a seasonal, peak, intermittent, or one-time basis.
- Certify that the job will last for no longer than a period of one year.
- Must establish that there aren’t any qualified or willing workers in the United States that are available for the work the employer requires.
While employers can only apply for H-2B Visas, foreign national employees must meet the following requirements:
- Have a valid job offer from a US-based employer for a temporary or seasonal occupation.
- Must possess the proper skills for the work.
- Must show intention of returning to the country of origin prior to the visa’s expiry date.
The total costs of the H-2B Visa vary; however, applicants (employers) are required to cover the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Form I-129 Petition of Nonimmigrant Worker filing fee.
The process of applying for an H-2B Visa involves the following:
- An employer must advertise and recruit for the job he or she needs workers for in an attempt to secure US-based workers.
- If no US workers are found, an employer can then apply for a temporary labor certification through his or her local State Workforce Agency.
- Once the labor certification is approved, an employer must file and submit a Form I-129.
- Upon the approval of the I-129 petition, workers outside of the US can apply for a visa through the consulate or embassy of their home country. Workers already in the US can ask to have their visa status changed to an H-2B worker; once their status is changed, employees can begin working.