U.S.A H-2B Visa for temporary workers. What an applicant needs to know
An H-2 temporary nonimmigrant work visa allows you to work legally in the U.S. for a set period of time. It is divided into two types: H-2A and H-2B. While H-2A is reserved exclusively for agricultural work, H-2B involves hiring workers from abroad for temporary or seasonal work in many other industries.
Unlike the agricultural worker visa, the H-2B visa has an annual quota of 66,000 visas.
Note, that because of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States, the issuance of H-2 visas has been temporarily suspended. There are high chances that the ban will be lifted from the beginning of 2021.
Who can apply for an H-2B visa
Vacancies for H-2B visas must relate to certain industries that are experiencing seasonal spikes and demonstrate a need for an additional temporary workforce.
Industries that may hire H-2B workers include: cruise ships, resorts and theme park construction, ski resorts, golf courses, maintenance and cleaning, landscaping, water parks, warehousing facilities, restaurants and bars, retail stores, sports and athletics, etc.
The visa processing can be started only by the employer (or their agent) who is planning to hire a foreigner. The requirements are as follows:
- An organization that hires an employee from overseas must have an approval from the U.S. Department of Labor.
- The potential employee must be a citizen of a country allowed to participate in this visa program (the list is reviewed annually). Exceptions are reviewed separately.
How to apply for H-2B visa
Before applying to USCIS, the employer must obtain an H-2B worker authorization from the Department of the Interior. The applicant then submits a completed Form I-129 to the USCIS.
Once the petition is approved, the employer or agent will receive a notice on Form I-797 (Notice of Approval). From this moment the prospective temporary worker can apply for a visa in the U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country. Follow our instructions: How to apply for a USA visa: step-by-step guide .
The spouse and unmarried children of an H-2B visa recipient under 21 years of age may apply for an H-4 U.S. nonimmigrant visa that does not entitle to work in the United States.
Documents required for H-2B visa interview:
- Electronic nonimmigrant visa application ( form DS-160 ).
- Valid passport with at least six month validity beyond the length of your intended stay in the U.S.
- One US visa photo.
- The entry number listed on your approved I-129 petition. Providing an original or copy of Form I-797 is not required at the interview.
- Interview invitation letter
To increase your chances of a successful interview, it is advisable to bring additional documents:
- Documents confirming professional qualifications.
- Original certificates from current and past jobs, indicating the position and the length of employment.
- You CV.
If the interview is successful, you will be issued an H-2B visa. You may arrive in the United States on the day your visa begins.
H-2B visas are usually issued for a maximum period of one year. The period of validity of the visa depends directly on the length of time you are contractually employed. The maximum stay in the United States in H-2B status should not exceed three years.