H-2 visas are temporary worker visas that are intended for both skilled and unskilled laborers, but not professionals. They are petition-based visas, which means that an employer needs to submit a request in order for a person to obtain one. There are two types of H-2 visas: the H-2A visa and the H-2B visa.
The H-2A visa allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. to work in seasonal agriculture jobs, while the H-2B visa allows foreign nationals to enter the U.S. to work in seasonal non-agricultural jobs. Both of these visas are unlike the H-1B visa, which is reserved for professional workers with college educations.
Who May Qualify for a H-2B Visa?
The H-2B visa is only available to employers of foreign workers and is only available for work that is temporary in nature. For H-2B visa purposes, this type of work means:
- Do not work in the agricultural field
- The work is a recurring seasonal need
- Intermittent is needed
- There is a peak-load need
Employers must also prove that there are no unemployed US workers that are willing to fill the position.
How Long Is the Duration of a H-2B Visa?
The duration of H-2B visas are only limited to employers that need to fill temporary positions. The maximum durational period is up to one year only. However, the durational period can be extended up to three years in some situations.
How Do I Obtain a H-2 Visa?
An employer must first submit a temporary labor certification application to the Department of Labor. After receiving a temporary labor certification, the employer must then file Form I-129 (Petition for Non-Immigrant Worker) on behalf of the prospective worker. Both the H-2A and H-2B visas require that an applicant have a job offer from a qualified employer before the visa can be granted.
The H-2 visas are employer specific, if visa holder loses his job or quits, then the visa will no longer be valid and the visa holder will have to return to his country. The maximum amount of time a H-2 visa holder can remain in the U.S. is three years. If a H-2 visa holder has been in the U.S. for up to three years, he must leave the U.S. and remain outside the country for an uninterrupted period of three months before reapplying for a H-2 visa.
If you are applying for an H-2 visa, it is important to apply quickly as each year there is a cap on the number of people who can enter the U.S. on a H-2 visa. Once the quota is full, no more H-2 visas will be issued.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Apply for a H-2 Visa?
If you or a loved one needs help with a visa application, you should contact an immigration attorney. An immigration lawyer can walk you through the process of obtaining an H-2 visa and help you decide whether you should apply for a H-2A or H-2B visa. Additionally, if you would like to bring your spouse and minor children along with you while you work in the U.S., a lawyer will be able to help your family with applying for a H-4 visa.