H-2B Visa

An H-2B “non-agricultural worker” visa is a non-immigrant visa that permits certain foreign nationals to work in the United States on a temporary or seasonal basis to fill temporary non-agricultural service or labor. It covers unskilled or job-trained workers in a variety of non-agricultural industries.

Temporary services or Labor refers to any job in which the need for the duties to be performed is temporary. The H-2B non-immigrant visa program permits employers to hire foreign workers to come to the U.S. and perform temporary non-agricultural work, which may be one-time, seasonal, peak load or intermittent and there are no qualified, able, or willing U.S. workers available for the job. H-2B visa holders must obtain valid job offers from their U.S. employers and secure a work authorization from the U.S. Labor Department. The H-2B visa enables U.S. businesses and agents to fill temporary needs for non-immigrant workers. Many individuals unable to obtain an O or P Visa may apply for this visa.

The visa is not self-petitioned, which means the Applicant will need an employer to sponsor them.


There is a statutory numerical limit, or “cap,” on the total number of aliens who may be provided H-2B non-immigrant classification during a fiscal year.

The H-2B visa is subject to a statutory numerical cap meaning that the number of H-2B visas available is limited. There is a 66,000 per year limit on the number of foreign workers who may receive H-2B status during each USCIS fiscal year (October through September). Unused visa numbers do not carry over to the next fiscal year.


Only nationals of certain foreign countries are approved to participate in the H-2B program. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security annually publishes a list of approved countries. Dependents of H-2B workers may apply for H-4 visas to accompany or join the H-2B worker. No work authorization is available to H-4 dependents.


In order to petition for a foreign worker, the employer must meet the following requirements:

  • Present the foreign worker(s) with a job offer of a temporary or seasonal nature;
  • Demonstrate that there is only a temporary need for the type of services or Labor to be performed by the foreign worker(s);
  • Demonstrate that there is an absence of U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to perform the temporary work;
  • Demonstrate that the employment of H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed American workers;
  • The foreign worker must have a foreign residence outside of the United States that he or she has no intention of abandoning;
  • The employer must submit a valid temporary Labor certification from the Department of Labor along with the H-2B petition.

The employee must meet the following H-2B visa requirements:

  • You must have a valid job offer from a U.S. employer to do seasonal or temporary work.
  • You must have the correct background and abilities for the job.
  • You must intend to return home before the expiration date on the visa.


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. The employer’s need is considered temporary if it is a(n):
    • One-time occurrence – A petitioner claiming a one-time occurrence must show that it has:
      • An employment situation that is otherwise permanent, but a temporary event of short duration has created the need for a temporary worker.
      • Not employed workers to perform the service or labor in the past, and will not need workers to perform the services or labor in the future; OR
    • Seasonal need – A petitioner claiming a seasonal need must show that the service or labor for which it seeks workers is:
      • Traditionally tied to a season of the year by an event or pattern; and
      • Of a recurring nature.
        Note: You cannot claim a seasonal need if the time period when you do NOT need the service or labor is:
      • Unpredictable;
      • Subject to change; or
      • Considered a vacation period for your permanent employees; OR
    • Peak load need – A petitioner claiming a peak load need must show that it:
      • Regularly employs permanent workers to perform the services or Labor at the place of employment;
      • Needs to temporarily supplement its permanent staff at the place of employment due to a seasonal or short-term demand; and
      • The temporary additions to staff will not become part of the employer’s regular operation; OR
    • Intermittent need – A petitioner claiming an intermittent need must show that it:
      • Has not employed permanent or full-time workers to perform the services or labor; and
      • Occasionally or intermittently needs temporary workers to perform services or labor for short periods.

H-2B petitioners must also provide a single valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), or, if the workers will be employed on Guam, from the Guam Department of Labor (Guam DOL).


  • The first step is to apply for a Temporary Labor Certification from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). You must meet all requirements of the DOL.
  • The employer must then attempt to recruit eligible U.S. individuals for the proposed positions, and then the employer must prove that there are no U.S. workers available for the proposed position.
  • Once this recruitment process is over, the DOL will send the employer Labor certification.
  • The employer can then file the I129 –Petition for Non-Immigrant worker with USCIS requesting H-2B worker.
  • After approval of this petition, you may apply at the consulate in your home country.


  • An approved temporary labor certification.
  • Proof of your qualifications for the position.
  • A letter detailing the nature of the position.
  • Proof of the temporary nature of the position.
  • A letter detailing the nature of the temporary need for foreign workers.


  • A filled-in appropriate DS visa application Form. Separate applications for each person are compulsory.
  • One recent photograph as per the specification of each applicant, with the entire face visible. The picture should be taken before a light background and without head covering.
  • A passport, valid for travel to the United States for at least six months longer than your intended visit.
  • Approval Notice of Action from USCIS


USCIS may grant H-2B classification for the period of time authorized on the temporary labor certification (usually authorized for no longer than one (1) year). H-2B classification may be extended for qualifying employment in increments of up to one (1) year. The maximum period of stay in H-2B classification is three (3) years.

An individual who has held H-2B non-immigrant status for a total of three (3) years is required to depart and remain outside the United States for an uninterrupted period of three (3) months before seeking readmission as an H-2B non-immigrant.


Any spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age of an H-2B worker may seek admission in H-4 non-immigrant classification. Family members in H-4 non-immigrant classification may not engage in employment in the United States, unless they personally qualify for a work visa. Additionally, anyone with the H-4 derivative status will able to attend schools in the U.S.