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H-2B Visas

Created on 17 October 2021

Last updated on 1 Feb 2022

By Nimsy Garcia

The H-2B visa program permits an American business to hire foreign workers to fill a temporary need for non-agricultural work. The most common areas of work are landscaping, hospitality, seafood processing, and recreational jobs.

Availability of Visas

Currently, there is a limit of 66,000 H-2B visas that may be granted in a fiscal year.  


USCIS has continuously received more H-2B petitions than the total number of H-2B visas available for the year. National labor shortages and the limit on H-2B visas means this process is competitive.

For a competitive filing, employers must be aware of strict deadlines and filing procedures to avoid delays or rejections.

Image by dylan nolte

The H-2B process is sometimes referred to as a lottery because a random selection process is used to select H-2B visa applicants.

A Brief Overview of the H-2B Program Process


Given the complexity, involvement, and agency deadlines required for this filing, it is recommended to begin this process 180-150 days before the job begins

The best last dates to apply are NOV 1 -15, if you want to meet the APR 1 deadline OR MAY 1 -15 to meet the OCT 1 deadline

Step 1. Determine eligibility to participate in the H-2B program process

  • The employer must have

    • A valid Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN)

    • A physical location in the United States

    • Appropriate funding to support need


  • The employer’s job must be

    • Temporary (9 months or less, unless a one-time occurrence than the position may be for a year and can be extended for 3 years)

    • Full-time (35 or more hours a week)

    • Non-agricultural


Step 2. The employer must obtain a Prevailing Wage Determination from the US Department of Labor (US DOL) by successfully establishing that

  • There are not enough U.S. workers who are qualified and available to do the temporary work, and

  • Employing H-2B worker(s) will not adversely affect similarly employed US workers' wages and working conditions.


Step 3. The employer must file a job order with the State Workforce Agency (SWA) and submit an H-2B application with the US DOL

  • Employer will receive a Notice of Acceptance or Notice of Deficiency

  • Once the Notice of Acceptance is issued, the employer must conduct domestic recruitment of U.S. workers

    • Specific advertising requirements must be met

    • Must give fair consideration to local applicants

      • Required to contact past workers

    • File a recruitment report

Step 4. After successful completion of the steps mentioned above, the employer will receive a temporary labor certification from the US DOL. With this certification, the employer can submit an

  I-129, H-2B petition, to United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Costs Associated with Filing The H-2B Petition With USCIS:

  • USD $ 460 Filing Fee

  • USD $ 150 Fraud Prevention Fee

  • USD $ 1,500 Request for Premium Processing

Step 5. After USCIS approves the H-2B petition, the employer may begin to recruit foreign workers. Once a prospective worker is found, the worker must apply for an H-2B visa at a US consulate or embassy.


Other Costs

  • USD $190 approx. visa fee, transportation to US consulate and USA, including meals and lodging

  • If the worker completes 50% of employment, must pay transportation costs to return home

*NOTE employers are responsible for the costs listed above and canNOT charge or be reimbursed by workers for expenses related to the H-2B process.



H-2B Eligible Nationals List

Only nationals of certain countries are eligible to participate in the H-2B program. The list of eligible countries can be found here.

* It is possible to request a consideration to add a country that is not on the list.  


Eligible Foreign Workers

To be eligible for an H-2B visa as a foreign worker, the worker must have a valid job offer from a US employer to perform temporary non-agricultural work, and a foreign residence they intend to return to once the visa expires.


Special Notes

  • The H-2B visa is for skilled and unskilled workers. There are no education requirements unless the job requires it.

  • An H-2B visa holder can change jobs, but only if the new employer has an H-2B certification.

  • An H-2B visa holder can extend their stay, change employers, or change the terms and conditions of employment without being subject to the H-2B cap.


H-2B Family Members

An H-2B holder's spouse and any unmarried children under 21 years may enter and study in the US as H-4 dependents but may not work while in H-4 status.

How Can I Assist YOU with the H-2B Visa Process?


Our law firm can help an employer with any or all the steps in the H-2B process.

We review your business’s eligibility, ensure deadlines are met, help meet the state and federal law requirements, and assist foreign recruits with consular processing.

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