What is an H2B Visa?

Many people have heard of an H1B visa, or a visa for specialty occupations, which these days seem impossible to get. There are only 65,000 H1B visas allotted every year and so, USCIS has now implemented a lottery system that randomly selects the lucky “winners” of these visas every year. There are 20,000 additional visas available for those who have master’s degrees and higher. There is no limit on how many times one can register for the lottery.

However, many do not know about the H2B visa, which is a visa for temporary, non-agricultural workers. To qualify, the worker must show that there are not enough U.S. workers that are able to take on the temporary position, the job will not affect the wages and working conditions of other U.S. workers, and most importantly, that the job is in fact, temporary.

Proving that the work is temporary can be difficult. Once can show that the need is a “one-time occurrence,” that it is of “seasonal need,” “peak load need,” or “intermittent need.” Each of these are in quotations because they are terms of art and have their own requirements. This portion of the case will be of utmost importance.

The process will begin with a temporary labor certification from the Department of Labor, followed by often, a recruitment process. All of this must be done in a certain time frame because there is a cap to how many visas are issued each year. The government has allotted 33,000 each half of the fiscal year (October 1- March 31, April 1- September 30). If the application is not submitted in the earlier part of the fiscal half year, then after conducting all the prerequisite steps, a visa number may not be available for the applicant, and the applicant would have to start over.

Another caveat is that the employee must be from a country that has been designated by the government. This includes the Philippines, Mexico, Brazil, Canada, and many more. Also, if approved the visa can be issued anywhere from 1 to 3 years. If issued initially for only one year, it can be renewed in one year increments. Although H2B is temporary, it’s still an option to be able to work in the U.S. However it will be important to strategize with a knowledgeable attorney first.