H-2B visas are available to employers that seek individuals to come to the United States for temporary work that is seasonal, for a peak-load need, an intermittent occurrence, or a seasonal need. H-2B workers are employed in landscaping, seasonal hospitality, and seasonal construction businesses, as well as in manufacturing, food packaging, and retail. The H-2B employer must file a labor certification to show that there are insufficient U.S. workers available and that the employment will not adversely affect wages and working conditions in the United States. Upon approval by the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security, H-2B workers can be admitted for up to one year, dependent on the employer’s demonstrated need.
H-2B visas are limited to 66,000 visas per year, half of which are available on October 1, and half of which are available on April 1.
Frequently Asked Questions about H-2B Visas
Who is Eligible for an H-2B Visa?
The H-2B visa is available to employers of foreign workers not working in the agricultural field. This visa is only available for work that is temporary in nature. For H-2B purposes, that means:
- Seasonal need
- Peak-load need
- Intermittent need
What is a ‘Seasonal Need’?
The petitioner must establish that the services or labor is traditionally tied to a season of the year by an event or pattern and is of a recurring nature. The petitioner shall specify the period(s) of time during each year in which it does not need the services or labor. The employment is not seasonal if the period during which the services or labor is not needed is unpredictable or subject to change or is considered a vacation period for the petitioner’s permanent employees.
What is a ‘Peak-load Need’?
The petitioner must establish that it regularly employs permanent workers to perform services or labor at the place of employment, and that it needs to supplement its permanent staff at the place of employment on a temporary basis due to a seasonal or short term demand. And that the temporary additions to staff will not become a part of the petitioner’s regular operation.
What is an ‘Intermittent Need’?
The petitioner must establish that it has not employed permanent or full-time workers to perform the services or labor, but occasionally or intermittently needs temporary workers to perform services or labor for short periods.
Are H-2B Workers Treated Differently from Other Workers?
No, H-2B employers must offer and pay the prevailing wage to both American workers and H-2B workers. They receive a payroll check with itemized deductions for Social Security, Medicare, state income tax, and Federal income tax. H-2B employers must pay their share of Social Security and Medicare, along with Federal Unemployment taxes, state unemployment taxes, and Workers’ compensation insurance on all H-2B workers. H-2B workers pay the same taxes as American employees but cannot collect the benefits.
What is the Duration of an H-2B Visa?
The duration of the visa is limited to the employer’s need for the temporary workers. The maximum authorized period is one year. However, the employer may extend the duration of the visa up to three years—but with a close watch from immigration authorities.