H-2B Visa Work Permit

USA Immigration for Canadians

H-2B visas are work permits available to applicants who are coming to the United States for temporary employment which is non-agricultural. They are for skilled and unskilled workers–unlike the H-1B Visa which is for highly skilled workers in “specialty occupations”.

There is a quota restriction of 66,000 H-2B Visa petitions during the fiscal year ending September 30, 2000.

H-2B Visa Questions

  • Qualifying for an H-2B Visa
  • Temporary Labor Certification
  • H-2B Petition
  • Duration of H-2B Status

Qualifying for an H-2B Visa

The most essential aspect of qualifying for an H-2B visa is show the INS that your prospective employment in the U.S is temporary or seasonal and is nonagricultural. You also require a suitable background for the job that is offered.

The U.S. employer’s need for a foreign worker must be “temporary” in the sense that the employment should be for one year or less. In most cases, the job offered is tied to a specific project that requires the services of a foreign employee and that can be completed within a finite time period. Employment involving temporary project management and consulting positions and training positions are typical examples of H-2B jobs.

Temporary Labour Certification

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the H-2B Visa process is what is known as Labor Certification. Basically, to qualify for an H-2B visa, you must satisfy the U.S government that there are no qualified Americans willing or able to hold the position offered by the U.S employer. This involves filing applications to the Department of Labor (DOL) and to the INS. The DOL will require that the U.S. employer advertise for the position to American workers. Only where the employer fails in finding a qualified U.S worker from its advertising efforts, will the temporary labor certification be approved and only then it will be possible for a successful H-2B application.

H-2B Visa Petition

Once the DOL approves the labour certification, the U.S employer is required to file an I-129 Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker with an INS Service Center with the jurisdiction over the place of employment. After the INS has approved the Petition, the foreign worker can apply for the visa at a U.S Consulate in his or her home country. If the foreign worker is already in the United States he or she may file in the U.S under certain conditions.

Duration of H-2B Status

H-2B status is valid for a maximum of three years. After this three year period has expired, the foreign worker cannot seek to extend or change status, nor can he or she be readmitted to the U.S. under the H and L nonimmigrant classification unless such person has resided and been physically present outside the United States for the immediate prior six months.

The H-2B visa is issued in one year increments with discretionary one year extensions of stay permissible until the total three years of H-2B eligibility has been reached.