Working in the U.S. with an H2-B Visa

Any immigrant who wants to work in the United States needs a visa to do so. The type of visa available to an immigrant depends on the immigrant’s nationality, occupation, training and work experience.

The H-2B Visa: Visa for the Temporary Worker

The H-2B visa is a visa for temporary work that U.S. workers are generally unwilling to do. This visa is for non-professionals and an employer must sponsor an immigrant. To employ H-2B workers, employers go through a process to prove that no U.S. workers are willing to do the temporary work. This includes filing certain forms, advertising the seasonal work, and going through a state run labor certification process.

Situations in which work is temporary and an employer may use H-2B employees include: recurring seasonal need, intermittent need, or one-time need.

The types of jobs that are usually available for an H-2B visa include landscape work, boat building, manual labor, welding, machine operations, housekeeping, construction, and food service (including cooking and bartending). Seasonal jobs can be found at resorts (including ski resorts) and hotels. Potential employees living overseas and wishing to come to the United States for temporary work should seek out employers to sponsor them or agencies that match employers with potential employees.

H-2B Visa Timing and Duration

H-2B visas last for the duration the employer needs the temporary employee up to a maximum of one year. An employer may extend the duration of the visa up to 3 years.

An employer should apply as soon as possible to this program as most of the 66,000 visas the United States gives out each year are gone by July. Employers can file for an H-2B visa as early as 6 months before work is scheduled to begin and should they should allow at least 45 days for the application to be processed and the visa to be issued. Employers must first seek temporary labor certification through the U.S. Department of Labor by filing ETA Form 750, Part A and completing the certification process. Once certification is granted, the employer may then file the I-129 Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker through U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once an H-2B employer’s I-129 Petition for visa(s) is granted, notice is sent to the U.S. consulate in the employee’s home country and the employee goes to the consulate and applies for a visa.

Legal Representation

Legal representation can be extremely helpful for both the employer and employee when attempting to obtain a H-2B Visa. An immigration attorney can review and file visa applications. This can help ensure that these often-complicated documents are filled out correctly and that the documentation you provide is adequate to meet U.S. immigration standards. An immigration lawyer can also advise you on what visas you are eligible for and can help you obtain permanent residence after you have gained a visa.