The H-2B program allows U.S. employers who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs, like landscapers, construction workers, or workers in service industry. 87 nations, including Mexico, are currently eligible to participate in the H-2 program.

There are only a limited number of visas available in this category, however. The cap set by Congress per fiscal year is 66,000, with 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the 1st half of the fiscal year (October 1 – March 31) and 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the 2nd half of the fiscal year (April 1 – September 30).

To qualify for H-2B nonimmigrant classification, the employer must establish, typically with significant supporting documentation, 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, The employer’s need is considered temporary if it is:
    • A one-time occurrence
    • A seasonal need; 
    • Peak load need; or
    • Intermittent need.

The process is lengthy and involves the following steps, all of which must be undertaken at specific times prior to the date of need.

  1. Obtaining a prevailing wage determination from the Department of Labor
  2. Filing a temporary labor certification application with the DOL and a job order with the state workforce agency
  3. Recruiting for U.S. workers and filing recruitment reports with the DOL.
  4. Filing a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker, Form I-129, with USCIS
  5. Applying for an H-2B visa for the prospective worker at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.

Employers are subject to strict requirements under the H2B program. For example, they must pay advance or pay directly all visa, travel, and visa-related expenses or reimburse the H2B workers in the first workweek. For all other requirements, follow this link to the DOL’s Fact Sheet:

To learn more about the H2B program and its requirements, deadlines, and costs, please call our office at 313-251-8282 to schedule an appointment or request an appointment from this website.