Law Offices of Cindy Ramjattan Paul - Immigration lawyer, Nutley, NJ

H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Worker

The H-2B visa is one type of working visa that unskilled foreign nationals use to temporarily enter the United States to work in certain types of jobs. The worker must be engaged in nonagricultural employment which is seasonal, intermittent, a peak load need, or a one-time occurrence, and be from a designated country. 

The industries that can most benefit from H2-B workers are the hospitality and service industries. Typically, in these industries, there is a peak season in which employers need additional unskilled labor to fill the jobs that American workers cannot fill. Such jobs include: servers, lifeguards, hosts and hostesses, laundry attendants, construction workers, cooks, cleaners, and many more.

It should be noted that the H-2B cap is 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the first half of the year (October 1-March 31) and 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the second half of the year (April 1-September 30). In other words, if you are filing, you must either submit your application before October 1 for the first deadline, or before April 1 for the second. Any unused numbers from the first half of the fiscal year will be made available for use by employers seeking to hire H-2B workers during the second half of the fiscal year, but there is no “carry over” of unused H-2B numbers from one fiscal year to the next.

In addition to falling into one of the above categories, the petitioner must prove that there are not enough American workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work in order for the H-2B visa to be issued. Secondly, the petitioner must prove that the employment of H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

The first thing that the petitioner must do is submit a temporary labor certification application ("LCA") to the Department of Labor and conduct a recruitment campaign, which tests the labor market to see if there are any qualified U.S. workers interested in the position. This is then followed by Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, to USCIS.

An H-2B visa is usually granted for an initial period of one year, and extensions may be granted not to exceed three years. Further, spouses and unmarried children under the age of 21 may apply for the applicable derivative visa (H4) to join their spouse or parent in the United States. H-4s are entitled to study in the United States, but are not eligible for employment while in the H-4 status.

For more information on H-2B visas, please visit the USCIS website at: Program Process