- H-2B Visa eligibility requirement
- How to prove your job is temporary
- What jobs can you do with an H-2B visa?
- Statutory numerical limit of H-2B visas
- How to apply
- Required documents
- Cost of the H-2B visa
- Processing time
- Dependents of H-2B visa
- Duration of stay
- Green Card and the H2B Visa
- How Total Law can help
- Frequently Asked Questions
What is an H-2B Visa?
The H2B Visa is a USA non-immigrant visa for foreign nationals working temporary jobs that are not in the agricultural sector.
It permits a U.S employer or agent who meets specific requirements to bring UK nationals and other foreign nations to perform one-time, seasonal, peak-load or intermittent jobs.
There is a statutory numerical limit of 66,000 for the number of H2B visas that the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues every fiscal year. However, the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor may temporarily increase the limit at any time.
Any US employer or agent that wishes to sponsor a UK citizen for the H2B visa must file a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, on the UK citizen’s behalf before the UK citizen can apply for this US visa.
For assistance with the H-2B visa, Call 0333 305 9375 or request a call back through our live chat or contact form.
Who is eligible for the H-2B visa?
You may be eligible for the H2B visa if a US employer has offered you a temporary job that is a one-time job or fulfils a seasonal need, peak load need, or intermittent need.
To be eligible for an H2B visa, you must:
- Have an official job letter from a U.S.-based company
- Meet the minimum qualifications and have the skills and experience for the job.
- Be able to demonstrate that you will return to the UK before your H2B visa expires.
In addition, your employer must file a Form I-129 to the U.S. Immigration Bureau for you, and you must be from the UK or any of the other 70+ countries that the Secretary of State for the USA has approved to be eligible for the H-2B program.
If you have any questions regarding your job eligibility or US visa route, please reach out to us to discuss. Call 0333 305 9375 or contact us online.
How to prove your job is temporary
The responsibility is placed on your US employer to prove that your intended employment and their need for a non-immigrant worker is for a short time. For that, they must show that for:
- One-time occurrence:
- The temporary job is for one time occurrence
- They haven’t employed workers to perform the job in the past
- They won’t need workers to handle the job in the future
- Seasonal employment:
- The job is traditionally connected to a particular season of the year by a pattern or event and is recurring
- They are not claiming a seasonal need for a time that is unpredictable, subject to change, or a vacation period for the regular permanent full-time workers
- Peak load need:
- They regularly employ permanent employees to do the job at the place of employment
- They need to temporarily hire foreign employees to supplement the permanent staff due to seasonal or short-term demand
- The temporary employment will not become a regular action
- Intermittent need
- They have not employed permanent employees to handle the job
- They need temporary workers occasionally or intermittently to do the job
In addition, a petitioner (US employer) must prove that:
- There are not enough U.S. residents or citizens who can, are available, and willing to do the temporary work.
- Their employment of temporary H-2B workers will not negatively affect the working conditions and wages of temporary US-based workers employed by the employer.
What jobs can you do with an H2B visa?
H2B visa holders cannot take agricultural work, such as farm labour in the US. If you plan to come to the US to take on agricultural work, the H-2A visa is appropriate.
The permitted jobs vary, but they must be for jobs that are considered temporary. Some of the approved H2B visas have been for the following jobs:
- Construction labourers
- Amusement and recreation attendants
- Housekeeping cleaners
- Landscaping workers
- Forest and conservation workers
- Waiters and waitresses
- Coaches and scouts
- Production workers
- Food preparation workers
How many H2B visas are issued?
The USCIS has a statutory limit of 66,000 H2B visas issued in every fiscal year, according to the immigration law. In the first half (October to March), they issue 33,000, while in the second half of the fiscal year (April to September), they issue the remaining 33,000.
However, in some years, the US government may decide to increase that limit temporarily. For example, in 2021, the US Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor temporarily increased the limit by 22,000.
Once the USCIS reaches its cap, they will reject and return any applications for the H2B visa. Nevertheless, they may accept petitions for H-2B visas for workers that are exempt from the cap. Those workers include:
- Fish roe processors
- Fish roe technicians
- Supervisors of fish roe processing
- Those that perform services in the Northern Mariana Islands or Guam from November 28, 2009, to December 31st, 2029.
If the USCIS doesn’t issue enough visas to complete the total number allocated to the H2B visas, the numbers are not carried over to the next year.
How to apply for the H2B visa
There are three steps to applying for an H2B visa.
Step One: the employer applies for a temporary labor certification
The first step in the process of getting an H-2B visa is that your US employer or agent, otherwise called the petitioner, does the temporary labor certification application from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). If the foreign workers are to work in Guam, the petitioner is to make that application to Guam DOL.
This step must be completed before the petitioner requests H-2B classification from the USCIS.
An employer must register 150-120 calendar days before they need to employ the prospective worker. During this process, they must obtain a prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) and then file a job order and H-2B application to the Chicago National Processing Center.
Step two: the petitioner submits a Form I-129 to USCIS
After the petitioner has received a valid temporary labor certification, they can file Form I-129 with the USCIS. Most petitioners are required to submit the original temporary labor certification along with Form I-129.
Suppose the petitioner is hiring more than one temporary non-agricultural worker performing the same service. In that case, the petitioner can file for all the foreign workers in one petition as long as the number of the H2B workers do not exceed the number of positions in the temporary labor certification.
Step three: The foreign workers apply for the visa
After the USCIS has approved the employer’s petition, the H-2B worker can apply for an H-2B visa with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) at a U.S. Embassy or Consulates in the UK.
With an H-2B visa, foreign workers can travel to the US and seek admission into the country with U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the airport or any U.S port of entry.
What documents do you need for the temporary non-agricultural workers visa?
At the point of submitting the Form I-129, the employer must submit the original temporary labor certification.
If they had submitted the original temporary labor certification when submitting a previous Form I-129, a photocopy of the document is acceptable as long as they provide an explanation that includes the receipt number of the application that the original was filed with.
Also, the employer is to provide some required documents with Form I-129. The documents include:
- A cover letter on the company’s official letterhead that describes:
- The nature of business of the employer
- Locations or mailing addresses the employer uses
- Duties of the UK citizen that is being employed
- The reason why the employer needs temporary workers
- The qualifications of the temporary staff
- Any documentation to prove why the job is temporary and that:
- There aren’t enough qualified US citizens to handle the job
- They will suffer irreparable harm if they do not hire foreign workers
- They are abiding by all labour employment, health, and safety laws
The petitioner must make copies of the submitted documents and forms. If the USCIS approves the employer’s petition, the USCIS will give them a notice of approval (or Form I-797).
A copy of that notice of approval must be included in the H2B visa application made by the foreign worker. That and some other documents must be submitted. Those documents include:
- A completed Form DS-160 (online non-immigrant visa application)
- A completed Form DS-157 (if the applicant is a male between the ages of 16 and 45)
- Valid passport
- A passport photograph
- Proof that you will return to your home country when your H-2B visa expires
How much does it cost to get an H2B visa?
As an H2B visa applicant, you must pay $190 as the visa application fee. Most of the other fees are placed on your employer.
The employer must pay the base petition fee of $460 when submitting the Form I-129. If applicable, they are to pay a $150 fraud prevention and detection fee. There may also be other fees applicable depending on the type of organisation applying for the petition.
To request premium processing, the employer is to pay $1,500.
Processing time of the H2B visa
When you apply for the visa (step 3), it takes between 60 to 120 days for H2B visa processing on average.
Employers must start the petition in advance so the visa can be ready before the employment starts. As a general rule, they can start the petition at least 60 days in advance and no more than 120 days in advance.
Also, the employer can request premium processing with a Form I-907.
Dependents of non-immigrant agricultural workers
Dependents can join an H2B worker in the US. Eligible dependents are a spouse or civil partner and unmarried children under the age of 21. Your dependents can join you by applying for the H4 visa.
The H4 visa grants your dependents entry into the US for as long as they are authorised. However, they are not allowed to work or apply for a work visa if they are already in the US on the H4 visa. They can apply for their H4 visa when you are applying for your H2B visa.
Obtaining an H2B visa is complex; there are different departments to deal with and processes to handle. For assistance from an experienced immigration lawyer, contact Total Law. Call 0333 305 9375.
How long can you stay in the US on an H-2B visa?
Usually, the USCIS will grant you an H2B visa with an authorized stay for the period your employer has stated they need your service. If you finish your job before the time granted in your visa, you don’t show up, or your contract is terminated, the employer must notify the USCIS.
The employer can apply for an extension of stay if they are still in need of your services. They must do that before your visa expires. When you need a renewal, your employer may need to request for or extend its labor certification.
The H2B visa can be extended for up to one year each time, but not more than three years in total. You must leave the US if you have stayed in the US for a total of three years on H-2B status and remain outside the US for at least three months before returning as an H2B nonimmigrant worker.
Can I apply for a Green Card with an H2B Visa?
It’s important that you note that the H2B visa is a non-immigrant American visa. That means you cannot immigrate to the US in the long term on this visa. You must return to the UK or any other country outside the US when you have finished your job or before your visa expires.
No time spent in the US on the H2B visa counts towards a green card, and you cannot change your status from an H2B visa to Green Card. However, if you want to stay in the US for a longer time, you can find a new employer willing to sponsor another non-immigrant permit.
If you wish to immigrate to the US and possibly get a green card, apply for an immigrant visa, such as the EB1 visa. If you are already in the US, you must return to your home country before you submit your application for that visa.
We are an immigration law firm that provides immigration services to assist UK citizens in getting the H2B visa. Our assistance when it comes to H2B visa application starts with the petitioner. We help employers:
- Establish that the services of the temporary worker meet the requirement for temporary employment.
- Gather evidence that the job meets that need and is temporary.
- Assist with obtaining a temporary labor certification
- Advice on supporting documentation
- Liaise with the USCIS on your behalf.
For the employee (UK citizen), we provide immigration services to assist with:
- Reviewing the job offer to assess the role’s eligibility for the H2B visa.
- Applying for the visa
- Completing and filing all required forms to the highest standards
- Liaising with the US-based sponsor and the USCIS on your behalf.
- Checking the status of your application
It is important to note that the H2B visa is only valid for temporary jobs. As such, you are not eligible for this visa if you wish to see permanent employment in the US or haven’t received an offer for a temporary job in the US from a company based in the US.
If you need assistance with starting your H2B visa application, or you want advice on the best US visa or immigration route to take, contact our Total Law immigration attorneys today. For personalised support, call 0333 305 9375, email firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to us via live chat.
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People often confuse the H2B and H1B visas, but they are not the same. The only similarity between them is that both visas are for temporary workers.
The H1B visa is for people who work in an occupation requiring a higher educational degree or equivalent in their industry and experience in a certain domain. That includes people that do government-to-government research and development and fashion models with certain abilities or merit.
On the other hand, the H2B visas are for non-agricultural workers from designated countries coming to the US for seasonal work.
Another difference between both visas is the duration of stay. H2B visa holders can stay in the US for one year and renew with a maximum period of 3 years in total. On the other hand, H1B visa holders are usually granted a 3-6 years validity period.
Furthermore, H2B visa holders must leave the country if their contract is terminated or ends, but H1B visa holders aren’t required to leave the US when their position ends.
Some people may also mistake the H2A visa for the H2B visa. The H2A visa is for temporary agricultural workers, while the H-2B visa is for temporary non-agricultural workers.
The short answer is yes. The H2B visa is a work visa for the US; it’s a temporary work visa that allows you to come to the US to work in select industries and jobs, including warehouses, retail stores, and hospitality, for employers with an intermittent need for short periods of time.
To work in the US with this visa, you must be sponsored by a US company that is authorised to hire migrant workers.
With an H2B visa, foreign workers can travel to the US and seek admission into the country with U.S. Customs and Border Protection at the airport or any U.S. port of entry.
You can get married in the US on an H2B visa.
However, you will not be able to immigrate in the long term on this visa because this visa provides those seeking admission into the US with non-immigrant status.
If you wish to stay for a long time or immigrate to the US after your wedding, you must leave the US then apply for an immigrant visa while in the UK. The fiance visa (IR1 or CR1) may be more appropriate, depending on your circumstances.
Call 0333 305 9375 or contact us online.