H-2B Visa Frequently Asked Questions

What is the H-2B visa, and who is eligible for it?

The H-2B program allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs. To qualify for H-2B nonimmigrant classification, the petitioner must establish that:

  • There are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.
  • Employing H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
  • Its need for the prospective worker’s services or labor is temporary, regardless of whether the underlying job can be described as temporary.

H-2B petitioners must also provide a single valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor.

What types of jobs are eligible for the H-2B program?

The H-2B program covers a wide range of non-agricultural, seasonal jobs, including positions in tourism, hospitality, landscaping, construction, forestry, and more.

How does the H-2B visa application process work?

The application process typically involves these steps:

The U.S. employer obtains a temporary labor certification from the DOL, demonstrating the need for foreign labor.

The employer submits a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker, to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) with the certified temporary labor certification.

If USCIS approves the petition, the foreign worker applies for the H-2B visa at the U.S. embassy or consulate in their home country.

How long can an H-2B visa holder stay in the U.S.?

Generally, USCIS may grant H-2B classification for up to the period of time authorized on the temporary labor certification. H-2B classification may be extended for qualifying employment in increments of up to 1 year each. A new, valid temporary labor certification covering the requested time must accompany each extension request. The maximum period of stay in H-2B classification is 3 years.

A person who has held H-2B nonimmigrant status for a total of 3 years must depart and remain outside the United States for an uninterrupted period of 3 months before seeking readmission as an H-2B nonimmigrant. Additionally, previous time spent in other H or L classifications counts toward total H-2B time.

Certain periods of time spent outside of the United States may “interrupt” an H-2B worker’s authorized stay and not count toward the 3-year limit. Consult with your immigration attorney for guidance.

Can H-2B visa holders bring their family members with them to the U.S.?

H-2B visa holders can request H-4 visas for their spouse and unmarried children under 21 to accompany them to the U.S. However, H-4 visa holders are not eligible to work in the U.S.

Is there a numerical cap on the number of H-2B visas issued each year?

Yes, there is an annual cap on the number of H-2B visas issued each fiscal year (66,000). The cap is divided into two halves, with visas available for the first half (33,000 beginning in October) and the second half (33,000 beginning in April).

Can H-2B visa holders change employers in the U.S.?

H-2B visa holders who wish to change employers should consult with your immigration attorney to ensure compliance with the U.S. immigration laws.

Can H-2B visa holders apply for U.S. permanent residency (a green card)?

H-2B visa holders do not have a direct pathway to apply for U.S. permanent residency (a green card) solely based on their H-2B status. The H-2B visa is a temporary non-immigrant visa that is intended for seasonal or temporary employment in the United States. It does not provide a direct route to obtaining permanent resident status. To become a U.S. permanent resident, H-2B visa holders would generally need to explore other immigration options and meet eligibility criteria. Consult with your immigration attorney for guidance.

Can H-2B visa holders apply for other non-immigrant visas while in the U.S.?

H-2B visa holders may be eligible to apply for certain other non-immigrant visas under specific circumstances. However, specific process and eligibility requirements for changing or extending visa status can vary depending on the visa category and individual circumstances. H-2B visa holders interested in changing or extending their immigration status should consult with their immigration attorney.

Can H-2B visa holders apply for U.S. citizenship (naturalization)?

H-2B visa holders cannot apply for U.S. citizenship (naturalization) solely based on their H-2B visa status. U.S. citizenship, also known as naturalization, is typically not available to temporary non-immigrant visa holders like H-2B workers unless they follow a path to permanent residency (green card status) and meet the eligibility requirements for naturalization.
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Dana Davidson - Full Bio

Dana T. Davidson holds degrees from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law and State University of New York at Stony Brook and has been practicing immigration law since 2003 in New York and nationwide. She represents corporations, individuals, and families in a broad range of immigration matters. Attorney Davidson has offices in New York City and Glen Cove.


  • Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University, New York, New York
  • Juris Doctor – 1988
  • Honors: Moot Court Board, Member, Judge
  • State University of New York at Stony Brook, Stony Brook, New York
  • Bachelor of Arts – 1982
  • Major: Political Science
  • Concentration: Business

Pro-Bono Activities

  • Safe Passage Project, Volunteer Attorney, 2013-Present
  • Educating the Educators, Founder, 2012-Present
  • Momentum Project, Board Member, 1991-1994 Bar Admission
  • New York, Eastern District
  • New York, Southern District
  • Washington, D.C.

Speaking Engagements
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2018, Berlin, Germany, Speaker on “Public Charge” panel
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Fall Conference 2018, Johannesburg, South Africa, Speaker: “Practice Management in the New Age” panel
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2018, Madrid, Spain, Speaker: “El Traje de Luces: Self-Sponsored Petitions – EB-1A and NIW”  AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2017, Brussels, Belgium, Speaker: “Continuing Blanket L Challenges”
  • Safe Passage Project, March 2017, Speaker: “Representing Unaccompanied Minors: Special Immigrant Juvenile Status and the Effects of President Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration”
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Fall Conference 2016, Speaker: “It’s Not About Money: I-864”
  • AILA RDC-EMEA Spring Conference 2016, Vienna, Austria, Speaker: “K-Visa: Differences Between K-1 and I-130 Processing”
  • New York Institute of Technology’s Center for Entrepreneurship, January 2016, Entrepreneur/Executive-in-Residence
  • AILA Fall Conference 2015, London, UK, Speaker: Impact of joint sponsors on family-based cases
  • Goldman-Sachs 10,000 Small Business Education Program, October 2014, “What is required to grow a business?”
  • Dowling College, May 2013, Keynote Speaker at the first annual Latino Summit at Dowling College
  • International Taxation Conference, 2010