What Is an H-2B Visa, and How Can I Get One?

Coming to the United States for work can be a complicated process, and most people who do so need to get a visa to stay and work in the country legally. There are many aspects to the process of getting a visa, and there are different types, which means each person needs to apply for the correct visa. For many, that will be the H-2B visa. Understanding what it qualifies nonimmigrants to do in the United States, as well as the process to receive it, can make the process go smoothly.

What Is the H-2B Visa?

The H-2B visa allows nonimmigrant foreign citizens to work temporarily in the United States. This visa is reserved for workers who are not working in agriculture. The employment must be temporary, such as a one-time job, seasonal work, or work during peak sales times. The Wage and Hour Division of the United States Department of Labor is responsible for making sure employers pay H-2B employees fairly.

The H-2B visa is not a self-petitioned visa, which means anyone applying for the visa will need to be sponsored by their American employer. It is worth noting that the employer must prove they were unable to fill the position with an unemployed American worker who was willing and able to do the work. Most employers will place advertisements looking for H-2B visas with local news outlets.

The H-2B visa is only available to workers from specific countries.

What Is the Process of Getting an H-2B Visa Like?

The process to receive an H-2B visa is relatively simple, and most of the work will be done by the employer looking to hire qualified workers. Here are some of the requirements that must be met before an H-2B visa can be issued:

  • The employer must have work which they know will be temporary
  • The job must last less than one year
  • The employee must have a valid offer from the employer for the job in question
  • The employee must be qualified to perform the work at the job in question, both physically and mentally
  • The employee must commit to returning to their home country before the visa expires

Once these qualifications have been met, the employee can apply for the visa. The application process is as follows:

  • Potential employees apply for the H-2B visa through the United States Department of State (DOS). This application can be filed at a United States Embassy or Consulate in their home country.
  • The employee would then seek admission to the country, which can be done with the Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency at an American port of entry.

To apply for the H-2B visa, employees must pay the required fees, have a valid passport (complete with photograph) from their home country, and provide evidence that they still have ties to their home country. Ties can include proof of homeownership and/or family that still resides in the country. They will also need to fill out form DS-160 and bring a copy with them.

Can I Stay in the United States for More Than One Year?

An H-2B visa can be granted to employees in 1-year increments. A temporary labor certification from the company the employee works for must be submitted alongside every request for visa extension. Once someone has been in the United States for 3 years under an H-2B visa, they must leave the country for at least 3 months before they can seek readmission under the same visa. Note that any time spent in the United States under an H visa or L visa will count towards the 3 total years allowed.

If an employee decides to bring their family members with them, they need to bring identifying documents for each family member when they visit the embassy or consulate. Such documents include marriage licenses and birth certificates.

Can My Family Come to the United States with Me?

Fortunately, employees working in the United States under an H-2B visa are allowed to bring certain family members with them. They can bring their spouse along with any children that are younger than 21 and unmarried. However, these family members are not allowed to work in the United States unless they apply for and receive their own work visa.

Need Help? Contact an Attorney Today.

If you are looking to come to the United States on the H-2B visa and need help or legal advice, contact Guerra Sáenz, PL today. With more than 15 years of experience working on immigration-related cases, we are ready to work with you towards getting an H-2B visa. Contact us today at (954) 466-0323 or via our online contact form.