US H2B Visa: Requirements, Processing Time, Sponsors & more

Many people travel to the US after receiving a job offer. These people must obtain an H-type visa before entering. This visa is a kind of temporary work permit for professionals and non-professionals and is divided into several general categories. The H2 permission is defined for workers working in agriculture and some industries other than agriculture. In this article, we discuss the H2B visa, how to apply for it, the essential documents that must be provided by the employer and the worker, and other details.

 

What is the H2B visa?

This visa is a kind of work permit for temporary workers in fields other than agriculture. The US government allows employers to hire foreign workers if they can demonstrate their temporary need for employment and if they cannot find the worker they want in the US.  Foreign workers can apply for this visa if they can find a sponsor and job opportunity for a certain period in the US. The differences between the H2A and H2B permissions are:

  • The H2A visa is for agricultural workers, while the H2B permission is for workers in non-agricultural areas.
  • Annually, 66,000 visas are issued to eligible people who apply for the H2B permission, but there is no restriction on issuing the H2A visa. In other words, there is the H2B visa cap. From October 1st to March 31st, 33,000 H2B permits will be given, and from April 1st to September 30th, another 33,000 visas will be issued. If in the first part of the year, not all 33,000 visas are granted, the rest will be given on the second part. However, if the yearly cap is not completed, the difference is not considered for the next year.

 

What are the visa requirements?

Employers in some specific industrial areas that need to be increased to employ temporary workers can apply for a foreign worker. The industries that are eligible to hire foreign workers using this visa or H2B visa jobs are:

  •  Hospitality
  •  Cruise Ships
  •   Resorts and theme parks, water parks, ski resorts,
  •   Restaurants and bars
  •   Construction
  •   Landscaping
  •   Golf courses
  •   Warehouses, maintenance and janitorial
  •   Retail stores
  •   Sports

 

How to apply for this visa?

To receive this visa, the employer must first apply. Companies in the public or private sector, sole proprietorships, or corporations are allowed to employ foreign workers. To be able to hire a foreign worker, H2B visa sponsors or employers must comply with the following:

  • The employer must prove that he/she has sought the US adequately to find the appropriate worker.
  • The employer must indicate that hiring a foreign worker will not harm working conditions in the US.
  • The foreign worker must be hired for a temporary job position.

In addition to the above conditions, the employer must also consider the following to obtain a Temporary Labor Certification by the US Department of Labor:

  • If the worker has to travel long distances to get to work, the employer must provide the transportation of the employee. Otherwise, the employer must pay the costs at the end of the contract.
  • Employers must supply three meals per day for the duration of the contract. Otherwise, the employer must provide facilities for cooking.
  • A foreign worker must receive a fair wage equal to an American worker. Employers must consult with the US Department of Labor to determine a reasonable hourly salary for foreign workers.

Foreign workers are willing to obtain an H2B visa must consider the following:

  • They must have a job offer from an employer in the US.
  • Workers must prove that they do not intend to reside permanently in the US.
  • They need to demonstrate that they have adequate skills for the job position offered.
  • Workers in some countries are allowed to apply for this visa. The Department of Homeland Security or DHS issues a list of countries authorized for this visa. This list is updated annually, and employers can request to add other countries to this list. If the employer intends to hire a foreign worker from a country whose name is not on this list, the following documents must be submitted by the employer:
  • The employer must provide a written request to the Department of Homeland Security.
  • Identity documents related to the foreign worker must be provided.
  • The employer must show that hiring this worker has particular benefits for the US.

The DSH will then examine the request and make a decision. If employers are employing foreign workers, it is recommended to present two petitions to make processing faster.

 

The H2B visa countries are:

Andorra Argentina Australia Austria
Barbados Belgium Brazil Brunei
Bulgaria Canada Chile Colombia
Costa Rica Croatia Czech Republic Denmark
Ecuador El Salvador Estonia Fiji
Finland France Germany Greece
Grenada Guatemala Honduras Hungary
Iceland Ireland Israel Italy
Jamaica Japan Kiribati Latvia
Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg North Macedonia
Madagascar Malta Mexico Monaco
Mongolia Montenegro Mozambique Nauru
The Netherlands Nicaragua New Zealand Norway
Panama Papua New Guinea Peru Poland
Portugal Romania Samoa San Marino
Serbia Singapore Slovakia Slovenia
Solomon Islands South Africa South Korea Spain
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Sweden Switzerland Taiwan
Thailand Timor-Leste Tonga Turkey
Tuvalu Ukraine United Kingdom Uruguay and Vanuatu

 

The steps that must be taken by the employer are:

The employer must first obtain a Temporary Labor Certification from the US Department of Labor. Obtaining this certificate is essential for all employers who intend to hire foreign workers in the US. It is required to provide the following documents at this step:

  • Form ETA-9155 is H-2B registration that must be registered no less than 120 and no more than 150 days before the worker is needed.
  • Form ETA-9141 is Application for Prevailing Wage Determination.
  • Form ETA-9142 is Application for Temporary Employment.

The employer must also prove that the applicant of the H2B visa will be hired for a temporary job position. Four temporary job opportunities are eligible for this visa:

  • One-time occurrence: Some jobs are permanent, but in some cases, there is a need to employ temporary workers to do so. Or if the employer has never hired someone for that job position, and does not intend to do again in the future, but requires someone just for now.
  • Seasonal need: In some circumstances, there is a deficiency of labor now because the industry has a cycle of seasonality, but not because of unpredictability or because permanent employees are on rest.
  • Peak-load need:  A permanent workforce must fill some job opportunities, but in some cases, the employer needs to hire temporary workers due to increased short-term demand.
  • Intermittent need: In some job situations, the employer does not hire a permanent workforce but always hires temporary staff for short-term periods.

The employers must also demonstrate that he/she has not been able to find a qualified or eager workforce in the US. They have to publish job advertisements in the media to prove that they have tried enough to find a worker inside the US. Job ads must be published in the newspaper for three consecutive days, and the offer must be open to US employees up until 21 days before the employer needs the employee.

The employer must send the documentation related to the recruiting attempts to be eligible for the certification. If the DOL gives approval, the Temporary Labor Certification is valid for three years. Then the employer can initiate the H2B visa application process.

In the next step, a petition should be filed to the USCIS or United States Citizen and Immigration Services. Between 45 days and 6 months before the employees are needed, Form I-129 has to be completed by the employer. Distinct requests must be made for each employee, and they cannot be transferred to other employees.

If USCIS approves the petition, a Form I-797 will be issued to the employer. This form shows the date that the employer can hire the worker, as well as when the work should end. The employer must adhere to the time recorded in this form; otherwise, his future applications for employment of a foreign worker will be rejected.

 

The steps that must be taken by the worker are:

Once the employer has received the necessary approvals, the worker can begin the visa application process.

The documents that must be provided by the worker at this stage are:

  • DS-160 online application form and its confirmation page
  • Form DS-156
  • Men must submit the DS-157 form (between the ages of 16 and 45)
  • $ 190 as  H2B visa cost
  • A valid passport
  • A photo
  • Provide the job offer in the US
  • Copies of forms I-797 and I-129 indicating USCIS approval
  • The worker must present evidence that he/she does not intend to remain permanently in the US (such as future job contract)

Participating in an interview is part of the pre-visa process. At the embassy, ​​the consular officer conducts the interview and evaluates the applicant for this visa. If the visa is approved, the applicant may apply for the visa stamping. According to the date stated in Form I-797, the worker is allowed to enter the US.

 

How long can the visa holder stay in the US and how to do the H2B visa extension?

H2B holders can stay in the US up to the period authorized on the temporary labor certification. These people can also increase their visa validity for another year. The maximum period they can stay in the US under this visa is three years. In other words, this visa can be extended twice. After this period, the visa holder must stay outside the US for at least three consecutive months and then re-apply.

 

Can the visa holder bring family members to the US?

Spouse and unmarried children of  H2B visa holders can come to the US by getting an H4 visa, and they can stay there as long as you have a valid H-2B status. H4 visa holders cannot work except in some cases, but they are allowed to enroll in academic courses. To work, they must obtain a separate work visa.

Can the visa holder change the H2B visa to Green Card or another visa?

Visa holders can change their visa status. If they find a new job, the new employer can file a petition to USCIS. If they find a job that requires a visa other than H2B, they can still apply to change their visa type through a new employer. Holders of the H2B visa can also apply for a Green Card (Employment or Family Based).

 

What are the reasons for rejecting the H2B visa application?

The application for this visa might be rejected for the following reasons:

  • If the employer fails to prove that he/she has tried to hire a worker in the US, his/her application will be rejected.
  • If the employer does not present the necessary documents within the specified time frame, the application will be rejected.
  • If the employment of a foreign worker by the employer harms the working conditions, wages, and benefits of workers in the US, the application will be rejected.
  • If the employer has violated the terms of the previous H-2B certifications over the last two years, the application will be rejected.

 

Let’s sum up …

This section provided an overview of the details of an H2B visa. In this article, we reviewed the essential aspects of a US work visa. On the Visa Library website, you can learn about other US visas as well as ways to immigrate to other countries. In case you have some experience, please write it down in the comment section. Your comments let the readers choose better and avoid mistakes. Conveying your experiences in comments is a great help for applicants.

Last Updated on June 20, 2020