U.S. employers may hire international workers to perform temporary nonagricultural services on a one-time, seasonal, peak load, or intermittent basis under an H-2B visa, also called a “guest worker” visa. The primary exception to this visa type is for agricultural positions.
In this post, a New York immigration attorney discusses the legal requirements for an H-2B visa, including eligibility requirements, approval process, and timelines.
What Is a H-2B Visa?
The H-2B visa encompasses a wide variety of temporary nonagricultural occupations. Around half of all temporary H-2B visa workers are employed as landscapers, groundskeepers, or forestry workers. The remaining half work in hospitality, entertainment, and athletics.
This USCIS web page also discusses H-2B visas in detail.
How Long Can Someone Stay on a H-2B Visa?
A H-2B visa holder may stay for up to nine (9) months or up to one (1) year for a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence. Under certain circumstances, a temporary worker’s stay can be extended by up to three (3) years, although rare. Typically, H-2B visa extensions allow for one (1) year.
H-2B Visa Eligibility Requirements
Employers and employees must both meet specific eligibility criteria to receive H-2B eligibility. Here is a closer look at the legal requirements of both parties below:
The following are the primary requirements for H-2B employers:
- Based in the United States
- Have a temporary need
- Work will not last longer than twelve (12) months
- Unable to fill the position with a U.S. worker
The following are the primary requirements for H-2B employees:
- On the Eligible Countries List
- Have a valid, written job offer
- Intend to return to home country
H-2B Visa Approval Process
The approval process generally consists of applications for labor certification, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), and an H-2B temporary visa by a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad. The temporary certification process begins when the employer submits an H-2B registration request to the local State Workforce Agency (SWA) at least 120 calendar days but no later than 150 before the employee’s start date.
The employer should then take the following actions:
- Ask about the prevailing wage
- Submit a work order
- Submit Form ETA 9142B, Application for Temporary Employment Certification
Employers should attempt to fill the position with U.S. citizens. Employers may obtain foreign labor certifications only if they cannot recruit U.S. applicants who are willing and capable of performing the job.
How Long Does H-2B Processing Take?
The processing time for an H-2B visa is typically two (2) to four (4) months, but it may take longer.
Premium processing may significantly reduce the total processing time for the H-2B visa petition. Individuals may also want to hire an immigration lawyer to ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.
Contact L.P. Taylor Law for Legal Advice
Whether applying for an H-2B visa from abroad, adjusting status, or hiring temporary workers from abroad, retaining an experienced New York immigration attorney can support important legal objectives. Get in touch with L.P. Taylor Law today by calling (914) 977-4343 or messaging the firm directly via the contact form below.