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