The H-2B Visa is only for temporary (foreign) workers who want to work in the nonagricultural sector in the United States for a limited time.

However, according to the Department of Homeland Security’s list of eligible countries, not all foreign nationals are eligible to participate in the H-2B programs for temporary nonagricultural jobs.

The new list, which goes into effect on November 10, 2021, allows Filipinos to participate in the H-2B program, which they were previously exempted from.

What is an H-2B Visa?

The H-2B program allows employers to temporarily hire temporary workers to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the United States. The employment must be for a limited time, such as a one-time occurrence, peak load, seasonal or intermittent need.

Employers seeking to hire H-2B workers must ensure that there are insufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to work temporarily for which they seek a prospective foreign worker and that hiring H-2B workers will not have a negative impact on the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

Difference Between H2A and H2B Visas

The significant difference between the H-2A and H-2B Visa is that Employers can temporarily hire nonimmigrants to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the United States under the H-2B Visa. At the same time, the H-2A visa allows H-2A workers to perform temporary or seasonal agricultural labor or services for which no American workers are available.

(this can be linked to the article on the difference between H2A and H2B)

Difference Between H-1B and H-2B visas

The H1B nonimmigrant classification applies to individuals who wish to perform services in a specialty occupation, services of exceptional merit and ability related to a Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development project, or services in a distinguished fashion model.

Workers in the H-1B visa category can stay in the United States for three years. After that, the period can be extended, but it cannot exceed six years. Each fiscal year, the H-1B classification has a 65,000 annual limit.

While the H2B Visa allows employers to hire foreign workers in the nonagricultural sector for up to three years with a numerical limit of 66,000 per fiscal year.

H-2B Eligible Countries List

Not all international residents are eligible to apply for an H-2B visa. As a result, the list of Eligibility Countries must be strictly followed for the H-2B visas to be processed smoothly.

The Department of Homeland Security, on the other hand, published a long list of recognized countries.

However, after receiving a recommendation from the U.S. Department of State or a written request from an unlisted foreign government, the secretary of homeland security may consider adding a nation to the list of countries qualified to participate.

Filipinos are among those who can apply for the H-2B visa program. However, the Philippines was removed from the Department of Homeland Security list in 2019 because it no longer met the regulatory standards for the H-2B visa programs.

Although the fact that a worker is not from a qualified country does not bar a U.S. employer from applying for an H-2B visa for that worker; however, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services advises filing two separate petitions.

Filing a single petition for workers from eligible countries and a separate petition for workers from non-eligible countries may shorten the processing time for H-2B worker requests.

If the job benefits the national interests of the United States, the prospective employee from an ineligible country may still be admitted as a nonimmigrant worker in the U.S.

Who is eligible for H-2B Visas?

The employer plays a role in the assessment process to be eligible for the H-2B nonimmigrant classification. First, they must be U.S. citizens with temporary labor certification. Also, the U.S. employer must be able to demonstrate the following: 

  • There are insufficient American workers who are capable, willing, qualified, and available to perform the temporary work.
  • The prospective employees are nationals of an H-2B eligible country.
  • Employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed American workers; and
  • The employer must have a seasonal, one-time, intermittent, or peak load need.

H-2B Visa Application Process

H-2B Visa Application Process

Submit a labor certification application

As the first step in the process, the employer/petitioner applies for temporary labor certification (TLC) from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Therefore, before requesting the H-2B classification from USCIS, the petitioner must first apply for TLC.

Submit Form I-129 to USCIS

The petitioner then submits Form I-129 to USCIS. The petitioner must file Form I-129 with USCIS and the TLC after receiving a temporary labor certification from the DOL for  H-2B employment.

Alien workers apply for a visa at the U.S. embassy

Prospective H-2B workers outside the United States must apply for a visa and admission to the United States after USCIS approves Form I-129.

Overview of the Required Documents to Apply for an H-2B Temporary Work Visa

When applying for an H-2B visa, the prospective worker should have a few primary documents and bring them to the visa interview.

  • A passport
  • A printout of the Form DS-160 you completed online.
  • Non-immigrant Visa Application Form DS-156
  • Supplemental Nonimmigrant Visa Application Form DS-157 (for males between the ages of 16 and 45)
  • Photographs in passport size for each applicant
  • Notice of H-2B Visa Approval or Form I-129
  • Application fee payment receipt
  • Documents to prove the family relationship between you and any accompanying family members (marriage certificates, birth certificates, etc.).
  • Documents proving that you have nonimmigrant intent and ties at home– in other words, you intend to return home once your employment concludes. Evidence of homeownership in your home country, or employment waiting for you when you get home, should suffice.

How long can you stay on an H-2B Visa?

Remember that everything about the H2B visa is temporary, including the stay period. An H-2B worker may only stay in the United States for the period specified by the Temporary Labor Certification, which cannot exceed three years.

Renewal after three years is possible, but the worker must leave the country for three months before applying for readmission as an H-2B nonimmigrant.

The USCIS may also grant an extension of stay. However, the application will be denied if the extension results in the employee remaining in the United States for more than three years.

Tell me the maximum number of H-2B visas approved each year?

Generally, the number of people admitted in a fiscal year in the United States is limited to 66,000, except government allows an additional number.

As a result, the figure was divided in half: 33,000 from October 1 to March 31 for the first half of the year and 33,000 from April 1 to September 30 for the second half of the fiscal year ordinarily.

However, there was an additional number to the limit of foreign nationals that can be admitted for the H-2B program in the 2022 fiscal year.

How much can I expect to pay in H-2B Visa fees and costs?

As of January 2021, the USCIS processing fee for an H-2B petition is $460. If you need to apply for a U.S. visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad, the visa fee is $190. Depending on your nationality, additional fees may apply.

Premium Processing Service is available for H-2B petitions for an additional fee.

Biden Administration provides another 20,000 H-2B visas for the first half of 2022

The Departments of Homeland Security and Labor announced on January 28, 2022, that an additional 20,000 H-2B visas had been approved for requested start dates before March 31, 2022, i.e., the first half of the fiscal year.

Only returning workers who received an H-2B visa or were otherwise granted H-2B status in the previous three fiscal years (2019, 2020, and 2021) will be eligible for 13,500 additional H-2B visas.

El Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Haitians, and Hondurans will be given priority for the remaining 6,500 H-2B visas.

(this can be linked to the article on H2B 2022)

If You Need Help

Because the visa application process can be complicated at times, hiring an immigration attorney to assist you with the process is highly recommended. As a result, please do not hesitate to contact the Herman Legal Group.

We are a multi-award-winning immigration law firm founded in 1995 with extensive experience in all areas of immigration, including family, employment, investor, deportation defense, and citizenship.

To schedule a personal consultation with Richard Herman, an immigration lawyer, call 1-216-696-6170 or book online. Consultations can be held over the phone, via Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime, or in person.

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