(CNN Español)— Every year, the United States grants thousands of H-2 visas to workers with or without experience (non-professionals and without an academic degree) to work temporarily in the country. This category is divided into two types of visas: the H-2A for agricultural workers and the H-2B for non-agricultural workers.
In 2020, the US granted a total of 65,716 H-2B visas, mostly occupied by gardeners, forestry workers and meat cutters.
The countries whose citizens received the highest number of H-2B visas were Mexico with 74.7%, followed by Jamaica with 8.9% and Guatemala with 2.7%, according to a report from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
Unlike H-2A visas, H-2B visas are subject to an annual limit determined by Congress that is currently 66,000 workers per year.
However, in May the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that they will increase the limit to a maximum of 22,000 additional visas. until the end of fiscal year 2021 “to ensure that American businesses are equipped with the resources necessary to recover successfully and contribute to the economic health of local communities,” indicated by DHS.
According to DHS, 16,000 of these visas would allow employers to hire workers with H-2B visas already in the US without having to wait for the approval of a new petition, while 6,000 are reserved for nationals of Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras in order to “expand the legal avenues of opportunity in the United States.”
But what is the process to apply for this visa and who qualifies? Here are the steps to obtain a visa H-2B.
Requirements for employers
The petitioner or employer must show that there are not enough US workers who are “trained, willing, available, and qualified to do the temporary work.”
Employing workers under the H-2B visa must not adversely affect US workers employed in similar jobs, and the work of candidate workers must be temporary in nature. The USCIS considers temporary if a job:
- Occurs only once: One petitioner argues that the need occurs only once and demonstrates that he has not previously hired workers to perform the service and will not need them in the future, or that it is a permanent employment situation but that a temporary or short-term event created the need for a temporary worker.
- It is by season: the service or job for which you are seeking workers is related by an event or pattern of events of a recurring nature.
Broadly speaking, the application process for the H2-B program is as follows:
- The petitioner presents an application of Temporary Employment Certification for Foreign Workforce of the DOL.
- The petitioner must submit a Form I-129 ante USCIS.
- Candidate workers outside the U.S. will need to apply for the H-2B visa at a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad and then apply for admission at a port of entry. They must bring a valid passport, a valid petition number (found on the job offer) and proof of payment of the visa application of US $ 190 to the appointment.
How long can I work in the US on an H2-B visa?
The maximum period of stay is 3 years. After 3 years, H-2B visa recipients must leave the US for an uninterrupted period of 3 months before applying for readmission under the same type of visa.
The H-2B visa is granted for a period of one year, although it can be requested two extensions of up to one year each. The extension request must be submitted prior to expiration and workers may remain in the US during the extension process.
Workers who receive the extension do not have to apply for a new visa, as long as they do not leave the United States, and if they return to their country of origin, they must apply for a new visa before re-entering the North American country.
Can I bring my family to the US?
Yes. An H-2B worker can bring their spouse or unmarried children under the age of 21 under the H-4 classification. However, family members are not eligible to work in the US.
Countries eligible for H-2B visas
These are the Latin American countries eligible to participate in the H-2B program in 2021:
- Costa Rica
- The Savior
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George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism