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H-2B visas are for qualified, temporary workers to the United States who are not agricultural workers. Temporary opportunities for foreign workers fall into the following categories:
They are hired for a one-time occurence, meaning that a need as arisen that was not there in the past and will not be there in the future.
The employer has a seasonal need for a foreign worker, which is predictable by season or specific event and recurring when this happens.
The foreign worker is needed to suppliment the permanent workers for an employer due to a short-term growth in demand.
The employer does not hire permanent workers and only those on a temporary basis for positions.
Similar to the H-1B nonimmigrant visa, the United States has a yearly cap for how many H-2B visas they approve. After this cap is reached, they only approve workers who are exempt from it. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) updates this cap on a regular basis. However, this cap is rarely reached.
Another way the H-2B visa is similar to the H-1B visa is the process of obtaining it. The employer is the actual applicant and the foreign worker is the beneficiary. Due to this, it is the employer who must submit a temporary Labor Certification Application (LCA) to the U.S. Department of Labor and file Form I-129 with the USCIS. After these are approved, the beneficiary receives the H-2B visa from a U.S. Embassy or Consulate in their home country.
The primary differences between these two visas are that the H-2B is only for specific countries and is for a shorter amount of time. Eligible countries are typically European, Latin American, or Pacific Islander, yet there are eligible countries around the world. Notable exceptions are China and India foreign workers may not apply to work on an H-2B visa.The following list is for 2015.
The period of time this visa is approved for is what is authorized on the temporary LCA. This may be extended yearly with an accompaning temporary LCA. However, the total amount of time in the U.S. cannot exceed three years. Foreign workers can return to the U.S. on an H-2B visa, yet must leave the U.S. for at least three months before seeking readmission.