US H-2B visa for temporary non-agricultural workers

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From ski resort workers in Colorado to amusement park employees in Florida, 66,000 temporary workers come to the US every year on H-2B visas. The H-2B allows US employers to hire migrant workers to fill temporary non-agricultural roles in the US.  The work can be at any skill level.


The H-2B visa is available to employers of foreign workers not working in the agricultural field. This visa is only available for work that is temporary in nature. For H2B purposes, that means one of the following:

  • Recurring seasonal need: work that is regularly tied to a season, such as amusement park work in the summer, or ski resort work in the winter.

  • Intermittent need: work for which the employer has not employed full time staff, and occasionally needs temporary workers.

  • Peak-load need: work during busy periods for which the employer needs temporary staff in addition to their permanent employees.

  • One time occurrence: work needed during a short, one time period of need.

The employer must also prove that:

  • There are no unemployed US workers willing or able to do the work. This is established through the Chicago National Processing Center using the temporary labor certification process. This process requires a recruitment campaign, including advertising in a local newspaper for available temporary workers.

  • Employing a worker on an H-2B visa will not negatively affect the pay or conditions of US workers.  A prevailing wage request will need to be completed via the FLAG system (Foreign Labor Application Gateway).

Length of stay

The duration of the visa is limited to the employer's need for the temporary workers. The maximum authorized period is one year. However, the employer may extend the duration of the visa up to a total period of three years in one year increments.  It should be noted that in many cases for the H2B visa you will not receive a visa for one year in duration.

Family and dependants

Spouses of H-2B visa holder or an unmarried child under 21 years of age of H-2B visa holder are issued an H-4 visa. They may remain in the US as long as the authorized stay of the H-2B visa holder. H-4 visa holders are not permitted to work in the US.

Entry into the US

Applicants should be aware that a visa does not guarantee entry into the United States. The officer at the port of entry has authority to deny admission, even if the applicant has a visa. Also, the officer at the port of entry, not the consular officer, determines the period for which the bearer of a temporary work visa is authorized to remain in the United States. At the port of entry, officials issue Form I-94, Record of Arrival-Departure, which notes the length of stay permitted. The decision to grant or deny a request for extension of stay, however, is made solely by the USCIS.

Required documents

In order to be considered as a non-immigrant under the above classifications, the prospective employer must file Form I-129, Petition for Non-immigrant Worker, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Once approved, the employer is sent a notice of approval, Form I-797.

Petitions should be filed no more than six months before the proposed employment will begin. However, they should be submitted at least 45 days before the employment will begin, because the petition processing and visa issuance may not be completed before work is to begin.

If the prospective worker is outside of the US, he/she must apply for a visa with the US Embassy or Consulate.

The H-2B visa application includes:

  • DS-160, Application for Non-immigrant Visa

  • DS-157 if male between the ages of 16 and 45).  Unlikely to be necessary as usually included in online DS-160 form.
    The necessary filing fees

  • Copy of Notice of Approval of H-2B Petition

  • Passport

  • One passport-style photo

  • Evidence of ties to the home country (family, property, current occupation, etc.) Like with any other non-immigrant visa, the Consulate needs to see that each applicant has ties to the country so that he or she will return home after their work period ends.

If the prospective worker is already in the US and is changing from one non-immigrant status to another, a visa application is not required. However, if the worker leaves the US and wants to re-enter on an H2B visa, s/he will need to apply for a visa.


If you would like to apply for an H-2B visa through, please fill out an application form, or contact us on:

Telephone:  0344 991 9222

Further information, help, and advice's team of specialists has over 25 years of experience in immigration services, and have helped thousands of people to study and work in the US. All applications for US visas are dealt with in-house by a US qualified lawyer who is also typically a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA).

For more information and advice on US immigration law and US visa applications please contact us on 0344 991 9222 or at