H-2B - skilled and unskilled workers

The H-2B visa is for those skilled and unskilled workers who don’t fall into the highly educated H-1B category. Workers applying for the H-2B visa must show:


     A job offer from an employer.

     That the job in question is temporary or seasonal, meaning that there are beginning and end dates.

     That there are not enough U.S. workers who are willing and able to do the work

     Show the correct experience and background for the position

     Show that the workers with H-2B visas will not harm the wages and work conditions of a similarly employed U.S. worker

     A permanent address in an eligible country with plans to return at the end of the visa’s term.


An important fact to remember about the H-2B visa is that an employer must petition on behalf of the worker. H-2B holders' spouses and unmarried children under 21 may apply for H-4 visas, but as discussed in the section above, this act might cast doubt on the intent to return to their home country.


The duration of the stay under an H-2B visa is listed on their temporary labor certification. After that, extensions may be granted in one-year increments. H-2B workers may stay for three, aggregated years before it becomes necessary for them to leave. After leaving the U.S. at the end of the three-year term, the worker becomes eligible for another three years of H-2B status. After a three-month hiatus, the worker may apply for a new H-2B visa to return to the States. An important note: time previously spent in the country under different H visas or L visas counts toward the aggregated three years time the visa allows.


A note about the H-2B Cap


Similar to the H-1B visa, the H-2B visas are subject to a limit on the number of visas the government may issue in a fiscal year. The total yearly cap is 66,000. Half of these are available for workers who begin work during the first half of the fiscal year (October 1-March 31), while the other half are allotted for people beginning work in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1-September 30). If 33,000 H-2B visas are not issued during the first fiscal period, the leftover number may carry over to the second-period applicants. Any visas that are not issued during the second period of the year may not carry over to the next fiscal year.

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