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The H-2B is an employer-sponsored visa for temporary work that is:
Caroline Ostrom, employment immigration attorney, assists employers and employees worldwide who are seeking U.S. H-2B visas. We encourage you to contact us if you need legal advice regarding the H-2B process and eligibility.
The H-2B may be used to fill a temporary need. It may not be used to temporarily fill an employer’s continuous, ongoing need. Generally, the maximum period of time available to an H-2B worker is 9 months for a particular job. The “one-time occurrence” is the exception, in which case up to 3 years may be approved.
Only nationals of certain foreign countries are approved to participate in the H-2B program. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security annually publishes a list of approved countries. Dependents of H-2B workers may apply for H-4 visas to accompany or join the H-2B worker. No work authorization is available to H-4 dependents.
The H-2B process requires a temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor, confirming that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the position. The temporary labor certification process is complex, and requires a prevailing wage determination for each worksite, a job order through the applicable state’s job bank, and specified recruitment activity.
There are numerous requirements in terms of process, and language used for recruitment. It is safe to say the H-2B recruitment and hiring process does not resemble what employers normally do to locate and hire workers.
With an approved temporary labor certification, the employer submits a petition to U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services. In this petition, the employer must again demonstrate temporary need for employees, the number of employees needed, and details about the nature of proposed employment. The employer must also demonstrate that the foreign workers meet any experience or special requirements that were included in the temporary labor certification. Once the H-2B petition is approved, the foreign workers apply for entry visas at the U.S. consulate in their home countries and travel to the U.S. to start work.
The H-2B worker will be admitted into the U.S. for the duration of the approved petition, not more than 12 months. Extensions are possible on the basis of a new petition approval. H-2B workers may work for consecutive employers – work for employer A under its approved petition, and then for employer B under B’s approved petition, for example. The maximum continuous stay within the U.S. in H-2B status is 3 years, after which the H-2B worker must depart and remain outside the U.S. for 3 months.
There is a limit of 66,000 H-2Bs per year. This annual quota is split – 33,000 are available for work starting October 1 through March 31, and the remaining 33,000 for work starting April 1 through September 30.
As noted above, the H-2B process has multiple steps and a great deal of complexity. Ostrom Law Office can help employers move through the process, avoiding pitfalls and delays in getting needed workers into the U.S. for time-sensitive projects.
Based in Minneapolis, our immigration team works with employees and employers in the Twin Cities and throughout the globe. We welcome you to contact Ostrom Law Office for assistance with your immigration matter.