H-2 A&B Temporary Visa for Agricultural & Non-Agricultural Workers

The H-2 classification is available for individuals coming to the U.S. temporarily for employment of a temporary nature and includes seasonal workers. The H-2A classification covers agricultural workers. The H-2B category is for those entering temporarily to fill temporary, nonagricultural positions and is valid for the duration of the petition to a maximum of 3 years.

H-2A Visa: Temporary Agricultural Worker

This visa is for agricultural positions that are temporary or seasonal in nature. There are no numerical limits for this type of visa. This visa requires that the employer file a labor certification application with the Department of Labor at least 45 days prior to needing the position filled stating that there are no U.S. workers available for the positions sought to be filled and that the employment of aliens for these positions will not adversely affect U.S. wages and working conditions. Also, the DOL must determine whether the services or labor performed by the worker qualify as agricultural labor or services.

If the DOL approves a temporary labor certification, the employer may file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with USCIS. Petitions may only be approved on behalf of nationals of certain countries designated as participating countries by the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State. On a case-by-case basis, a national from a country not on the list may be eligible if participation is in the interest of the United States.

H-2A Period of Stay

These visas are valid for one year. However, extensions of up to one (1) year are possible with a maximum of three (3) years. However, an individual who has held H-2A nonimmigrant status for a total of three (3) years is required to remain outside the United States for an uninterrupted period of three (3) months before seeking readmission as an H-2A nonimmigrant.

Family of H-2A Visa Holders

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age are entitled to H-4 nonimmigrant classification, which does not allow for employment.

H-2B Temporary or Seasonal Non-Agricultural Workers Visa

This category is aimed at skilled and unskilled workers who are coming to the United States for a temporary position non-agricultural employment which is seasonal or intermittent, to meet a peak load need, or to participate in a one-time occurrence for which qualified U.S. workers are not available. It allows U.S. employers such as hotels, construction companies, and landscapers to fill temporary needs and some typical professions or jobs that meet the USCIS’s criteria of “temporary” are entertainers, athletes, camp counselors, craftpersons, and ski instructors. This visa is also occasionally used to hire professional basketball or hockey players. Many individuals who are unable to obtain an O or P Visa decide to apply for this visa instead.

This visa also requires that the employer file a labor certification application with the Department of Labor stating that there are no U.S. workers available and that wages and working conditions meet regional standards and that the employment of aliens for these positions will not adversely affect U.S. wages and working conditions. Also, the DOL must determine whether the services or labor performed by you will be a one-time occurrence, a seasonal need, a peak load need, or an intermittent need.

If the DOL approves a temporary labor certification, the employer may file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, with USCIS. Petitions may only be approved on behalf of nationals of certain countries designated as participating countries by the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of State. On a case-by-case basis, a national from a country not on the list may be eligible if participation is in the interest of the United States. Like any other work related visa the foreign worker must have the correct background and abilities for the job offered. An important distinction of the H-2B is that there is an annual cap of 66,000 H-2B visas.

H-2B Period of Stay

The H-2B visa is valid for one year, but may occasionally be valid for a specific one-time event of up to three years. Extensions of up to one year are possible with a maximum of three years. However, an individual who has held H-2B nonimmigrant status for a total of three years is required to remain outside the United States for an uninterrupted period of three months before seeking readmission as an H-2B nonimmigrant.

Family of H-2B Visa Holders

Spouses and unmarried children under 21 years of age are entitled to H-4 nonimmigrant classification, but they may not be employed unless they independently qualify for a work visa.