: The H-2B(non-agricultural temporary worker program) allows U.S. employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs.
H-2B visa is for non-agricultural temporary worker, different from H-2A Visa
for temporary agricultural workers.
Period of Stay: initial stay of no more than 1 year, could be extended in increments of 1 year. The maximum period of stay is 3 years.
A person who has held H-2B nonimmigrant status for a total of 3 years must depart and remain outside the United States for an uninterrupted period of 3 months before seeking readmission as an H-2B nonimmigrant. Additionally, previous time spent in other H or L classifications counts toward total H-2B time.
Family: Spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age could apply for H-4 non-immigrant visa. They do not have work authorization under H-4 status.
They are also not counted against the annual H2B cap.
Green Card Intent: Dual Intent is not permitted. A foreign worker in H-2B nonimmigrant status for 3 years is required to depart and remain outside the United States for an uninterrupted period of 3 months.
H2-B Visa Cap
Currently, the H-2B cap set by Congress is 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the 1st half of the fiscal year and 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the 2nd half of the fiscal year. 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. There is no "carry over" of unused H-2B numbers from one fiscal year to the next.
In fiscal year 2010, USCIS received 63,588 applications for H-2B visa, approved 47,403 of them, and denied 16,185, waived or overcome 5,324.
H2-B Visa Cap Exemption
Once the annual 66,000 cap is reached, USCIS will only accept petitions for following H-2B workers who are exempt from the H-2B cap.
- H-2B workers in the United States or abroad who have been previously counted towards the cap in the same fiscal year;
- Current H-2B workers seeking an extension of stay;
- Current H-2B workers seeking a change of employer or terms of employment;
- Fish roe processors, fish roe technicians and/or supervisors of fish roe processing
- Workers performing labor or services in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and/or Guam(11/28/2009-12/31/2019)
H-2B Visa extension and the spouse and children of H-2B workers holding H4 visa are not counted against H-2B Visa cap.
H-2B Program Process
- Employer Submits Temporary Labor Certification Application to the Department of Labor. Before requesting H-2B classification from USCIS, the employer must apply for and receive a temporary labor certification for H-2B workers with the U.S. Department of Labor (or Guam DOL if the employment will be in Guam).
- Employer Submits Form I-129 to USCIS. After receiving a temporary labor certification for H-2B employment from either DOL, the employer should file Form I-129 with USCIS. With limited exceptions, the original temporary labor certification must be submitted with Form I-129.
- Prospective Workers Outside the United States Apply for Visa and/or Admission. After USCIS approved Form I-129, prospective H-2B workers who are outside the United States must:
Apply for an H-2B visa with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate abroad, then seek admission to the United States with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a U.S. port of entry;
Directly seek admission to the United States in H-2B classification with CBP at a U.S. port of entry.