H-2B Visa

H-2B | Non-agricultural workers

What is H-2B Visa?

The H-2B Visa is a non-immigrant Visa granted to temporary foreign workers who wish to provide services in the United States. However, in order to obtain it, the petitioner must meet certain requirements.

Initially, the H-2 Visa has two types:
• The H-2A for agricultural workers and
• The H-2B for non-agricultural workers. There is a statutory maximum number, or “cap,” on the total number of people who can obtain an H-2B Visa or obtain H-2B nonimmigrant classification during a fiscal year.

Specifically, the H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Worker Program was created by Congress to allow US employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to temporarily fill non-agricultural jobs.

Currently, Congress has set the maximum number of H-2B visas at 66,000 per fiscal year, of which 33,000 are for workers beginning employment during the first half of the fiscal year (October 1 to March 31) and 33,000 for workers who begin employment during the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 to September 30).

Sources : USCIS – DOL – CNN

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If you are looking for work in the United States, but do not have a work Visa, the H-2B Visa may be your solution. This Visa allows you to work temporarily in the North American country without having to process a specific work Visa.

Advantages and Disadvantages

The main advantages of the H-2B Visa are:

– There is no limit to the number of visas that can be issued.
– Does not require a previous job offer.
– Applicants do not need to be permanent residents of their country of origin.
– The HB Visa allows workers to stay in the United States for a maximum of three years, and can be renewed for another three years.

– The HB Visa only allows you to work for the petitioner who applied for your Visa, so you will not be able to change jobs once you are in the US.
– The HB Visa has a maximum duration of three years, and can only be renewed if after those three years you leave the United States for three months.
– Beneficiaries of the HB Visa must return to their country of origin at the end of the visa period or request an extension.

Although any qualified professional can apply for a Visa, regardless of the field in which they work, professionals in areas such as engineering, computer science, science, medicine and educational professions, have a better chance of obtaining approval.

Which Countries are Eligible for H-2B visa

In total there are 83 countries that can apply for the H-2B Visa. In America, Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, the Dominican Republic and Uruguay participate. Spanish citizens are also eligible.

The countries whose citizens received the highest number of H-2B visas were Mexico with 74.7% , followed by Jamaica with 8.9% and Guatemala with 2.7% . Only 0.06% of HB Visa recipients are citizens of Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.

If you are petitioning for H-2B Visa workers from both eligible and ineligible countries, USCIS suggests that you file two separate petitions. Filing one petition for workers from eligible countries and one petition for workers from ineligible countries may help reduce delays in processing your H-2B worker petitions

H-2B Visa Requirements

In principle, to apply for the HB Visa, the petitioner (employer) must demonstrate that:

– There are not enough US workers who are trained, willing, available and qualified to perform the temporary work.

– Hiring H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of US workers employed in similar jobs.

– The prospective worker’s need for services or work is temporary, regardless of whether the job functions can be described as permanent.

The employer’s need is considered temporary if it is:
Intermittent: occurs by seasons, streaks or peaks of activity.
Eventual: occurs in a single or sporadic event.
Short-term: it has a specific duration and the work will cease at the end of the process for which it was required. For example, summer positions at theme parks and seasonal hotels, as well as vacancies generated by replacements due to medical leave, among others.

You can read in detail the laws that as an employer must comply with here.

Likewise, the applicant (worker) must meet the following requirements:
-Have a valid job offer in the US in an HB qualifying position.
-Possess the training and skills necessary for the job you are applying for.
-Not have a criminal record that prevents their entry into the United States.
-Not represent a risk to the national security of that country.
-Be in possession of a valid passport from your country of origin.

You can see the offer of temporary jobs in the official website of the United States Department of Labor.

visa h1b1

How to apply for H-2B Visa

Broadly speaking, the application process for the H-2B program is as follows:

-Petitioner files an application for DOL Temporary Employment Certification for Foreign Labor .
-The petitioner must file a Form I-129 with USCIS.
-Candidate workers outside the US must apply for the H-2B Visa at a US embassy or consulate abroad and then apply for admission at a port of entry. To the appointment they must bring a valid passport, a valid petition number (it is found in the job offer) and proof of payment of the Visa application of US $190 .

After the process, if everything is approved, you will be assigned a Social Security Personal Identification Number (SSN), which will allow you to work and collect taxes in the country. However, it is important to emphasize that the HB Visa only allows you to work for the petitioner who applied for your Visa, so you will not be able to change jobs once you are in the United States

Documents to consider

The US consulate will probably ask you to bring:
• A printed copy of the DS-160 form that you completed online.
• Notice from USCIS showing the I-129 approval.
• Valid passport for you and each accompanying family member.
• One passport-style photo of each applicant.
• If your spouse and children accompany you, documents showing the family relationship, such as birth and marriage certificates.
• Documents establishing your intent to leave the United States when your H2B status expires, such as copies of a deed to a house or an apartment lease, letters from an employer stating that your job will be waiting for you, and so on

How much H-2B Visa Cost

The filing fee for Form I-129 is $460* . This fee is non-refundable, so if USCIS rejects the application or the sponsor decides not to proceed with the process, the money cannot be recovered. On the other hand, the foreigner must pay a fee of $190 to apply for the H-2B Visa once USCIS has approved the I-129 form.

*This information corresponds to September 2022

How likely is it that my H-2B Visa application will be approved?

The HB Visa has been in the spotlight lately, with a great deal of controversy over its effectiveness and usefulness. Still, each year thousands of foreign workers are admitted to the country to temporarily work in an HB position. According to the US Department of Labor, approximately 81,000 HB certificates were issued in 2017.

To apply for an HB Visa, you must have an employer willing to apply on your behalf. In most cases, the petitioner will be the direct employer. However, in some cases the petitioner may be a contractor or subcontractor for the work. If you are the beneficiary of an HB Visa, make sure you know the petitioner and make sure they meet all the legal requirements to apply.

Can you bring your family?

Any spouse or unmarried child under the age of 21 of an H-2B worker may apply for admission in the H-34 nonimmigrant classification. Family members are not eligible for employment in the United States while in H status.

How to extend H-2B Visa

The HB Visa has a maximum duration of three years, and can only be renewed if after those three years you leave the United States for three months.

The H-2B Visa is granted for a period of one year, although it can be requested two extensions of up to one year each and re-issue an application for the same Visa.

Of course, this Visa is not the only option to work in the United States. Even if you meet the above requirements, there are other visas such as the J1 Visa or the TN Visa that may be of interest to you. However, to do so, you should directly consult an immigration lawyer to receive personalized advice

How many H-2B Visas are issued per year

Under the newly announced temporary H-2B cap temporary final rule that increases the cap by up to 35,000 H-2B nonimmigrant visas through the end of fiscal year 2022, USCIS has received sufficient petitions to meet the cap. the additional 23,500 visas that were made available only for returning workers.

They will continue to accept petitions from H2-B nonimmigrant workers for the additional 11,500 visas allocated for nationals of El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Haiti regardless of whether they are returning workers.

USCIS is currently accepting petitions for employment start dates from October 1, 2022 through March 31, 2023. These petitions will be subject to the fiscal year 2023 H2B cap. 

H-2B Visa Holder

Multiple professions are developed by the holders of an H-B2 Visa. Between them:

• Landscapers, gardeners and maintenance workers: 37.6% of the visas.
• Meat cutters and processors: 9.8% of visas available.
• Forest conservation: 7.9% of the visas.
• Cleaning service: 6.6% of visas.
• Amusement centers: 6.4% of the visas.
• Loaders and removals: 2.6% of the visas.
• Cooks: 2.6% of H-2B visas .
• Waiters: 2.6% of available visas.
• Bricklayers: They have 1.9% of the visas.
• Animal caretakers: They have 1.2% of the visas

Avoid scam

Some employers will be able to help you with the H-2B Visa application process, most likely if they regularly hire employees from outside the US If your employer does not provide an attorney, consider hiring one. The attorney can help you determine which Visa category is best suited for your employment purposes and, if you are applying for an H-2B, will help you not only prepare the paperwork, but also help you submit it early enough for employers to visas for that year do not when they have already been exhausted when you apply.

How much does a worker earn with the H-2B Visa ?*

The H2B are for non-agricultural workers, and according to the DOL the following figures are estimated:

• Landscape gardener: $10,46 an hour.
• Construction Supervisor: $21,03 an hour.
• Carpenter: $15,48 an hour.
• Mason: $14,92 an hour.
• Electric: $18,52 an hour.
• Painter: $12,86 an hour.
• Plumber: $16,52 an hour.
• Camp cook: $11,78 an hour.
• Planning secretary: $21,50 an hour.
• Heavy Equipment Operator: $16,58 an hour.
• Air Conditioning Repair Technician: $18,43 an hour.
• Maintenance mechanic: $12,64 an hour.
• Metal worker: $15,62 an hour.
• Structural steel worker: $14,90 an hour.
• Baker: $10,27 an hour.
• Welder: $18,49 an hour.
• Auto Mechanic: $24.21 an hour.

*This information corresponds to September 2022


If you are looking for a job in the United States and meet the H-2B Visa requirements, this may be a good option for you. We hope we have clarified some of your doubts and we encourage you to continue investigating if this Visa is the right one for you. Remember that if you  decide to apply, it is best to do so with the help of an e xperienced immigration attorney. Good luck