H2B Visa: Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers

The H2B program is for US employers and agencies that allow them to hire foreign nationals in the United States for a temporary non-agricultural jobs. The H2B Visa requires that US employers or agents requires meet specific regulatory needs and file the Form I-129 for non-immigration workers on the worker’s behalf.


Qualification criteria for H2B Visa

In order to qualify the H2B classification of a non-immigrant, the petitioner should be able to prove that:

  • There are not many US workers who hold the qualification and skills to do the work.
  • There will not be any adverse effect on the wages of the US employed workers.
  • The employer has a temporary need for the labour. By the term “temporary,” we mean that the employment should be a one-time occurrence.
  • The employment situation is a temporary event and not permanent.
  • The unemployed workers in the past will not be required in the future for the same work.

Other qualification possibilities

Another possibility may be a seasonal requirement of labor. Every year, there may be a need for additional labor or seasonal workers. In case of unpredictable circumstances or if the employment demand is subject to change, one can still invite foreign nationals to work in the US. One may also consider employing temporary workers in the place of permanent employees when they are on vacation.

Another possibility is when there is a peak load requirement, and the regular employees are not sufficient enough to generate output. Thus, one can ask for temporary supplement resources. However, these temporary additions should not be a part of the regular operations.

In case of an occasional need, where the employer is able to show that he or she has not employed full-time workers or proved that they occasionally need temporary workers for a short period allows them to offer H2B visas.


H2B Annual Cap

The H2B Annual Cap is the statutory numerical limit on how many H-2B visas can be issued in a single fiscal year. Currently, the H-2B cap is 66,000 every financial year where not more than 33,000 can be employed in the first half of the year and 33,000 in the latter half.

The H2B Program Process

  • The process starts with the petitioner applying for a temporary labour certification application to DOL. The petitioner then files the Form I-129 with USCIS along with the temporary labour certification form.
  • Consequently, the workers outside the US will apply for visa and admission.
  • On approval of the Form I-129 from USCIS, the prospective workers can apply for an H-2B visa with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) at a U.S. Embassy. They may also get direct admission to the US with CBP at a U.S port of entry. Consequently, in these cases, one may not require an H-2B visa.
  • The employers can request workers from both eligible as well as the non-eligible countries. However, in such a situation, you may file two separate petitions. This assures your request being complied without delays in the further processing of the requests.


How long can the worker stay?

One can only stay for the time period mentioned in the temporary labour certification. However, one can extend their stay on the H2B visa up to three years if the employment requirement permits. If people with H-2B non-immigrant status request for an additional three years of stay, they will have to wait for three months outside the US to get the readmission in the country prior to the approval.


Rules for the family of the H2B workers

The spouse or the kids of the worker under the age of 21 years can seek admission through the H4 non-immigrant category. However, the family members cannot apply for employment during their H4 status in the US.


The USCIS rules on Employment Notification

The Petitioners should notify the USCIS within 48 hours in case the H2B worker fails to report within five days of employment start date. Moreover, in the case the H2B worker himself leaves without notice and does not come to work for five consecutive days without the consent of the employer will lead to abscondment.

If services are fulfilled before the specified time, the employer must file for termination of the H2B visa. In case the termination is on or before 30 days of the petition, then it happens to come under the status of early completion.

The petitioner should make sure to include specific details in the employment notification. Firstly, the concerned person should mention the reason for the notification. These reasons may be the ones mentioned above like a no-show, abscondment, early completion, termination, etc. Further, this reason should prove a good cause. The notification should have the USCIS receipt number. Additionally, the petitioner should mention all the details of the petitioner employer and worker’s personal information. For example, name, address, phone number, employment number, the birthplace of the worker, etc. Every H2B worker holds a visa number and a social security number and these should included in the notification.


The USCIS rules on Fee Notification

The employer or the petitioner cannot collect any placement fee at any time from the H2B visa-holding worker. The petitioners can notify USCIS is they find any prohibited fee payment made to any employer or agent. They should submit this information within 2 working days of the gaining the knowledge.

Furthermore, the entire fee-related information should be present in the notification. This consists of the reason for the notification, USCIS receipt number of the approved H-2B petition, data of the petitioner, employer and worker. This may include necessary details such as name, address, phone number, etc.


H2B Visa Summary

The entry to the US for foreign nationals is possible only if the demand persists, Moreover, you need qualify the necessary skills required for the job. Connecting with the agents in order to identify job requirements can easily let a person apply for temporary employment in the US. The H2B visa is an excellent source to get a job opportunity in the US. It is flexible enough to let your dependants come along to the country through the H4 classification status. However, certain exceptions persist in every case. One can get through the in-depth rules present in the official documents.