10 Must-known Facts About the H-2B Visa Program
Employers often depend on the H-2B Federal program to hire foreign workers when there is simply an insufficient number of U.S workers available to meet the workforce demands.
In America, there remains a significant labor shortage for certain jobs and in particular geographic locations. Employers often turn to an H-2B recruiting company to find foreign workers to meet their needs.
The demand for foreign workers continues to grow. The Department of Homeland security has authorized additional H-2B visa allotments for the last several fiscal years to meet the exigency of employers.
In this guide, we will explore the 10 must-known facts concerning the H-2B visa program. A U.S. employer should weigh the considerations to see if hiring foreign workers might prove the solution to their labor shortage.
If you are seeking further information about the program then you can contact an experienced recruiter employment agency H2B visa specialist, such those who work with AW Labor Solutions.
Facts About the H-2B Visa and Foreign Worker Recruitment
All employers considering collaborating with a foreign worker agency should familiarize themselves with the following facts about the H-2B visa and foreign worker recruitment process to determine the suitability of the program.
1. H-2B is a Nonimmigrant Visa
The H-2B is a nonimmigrant visa program used to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs. The federal program lets US employers hire foreign workers if they have demonstrated that there is a shortage of US workers available to fill the labor demands.
To qualify for the H-2B program, the work must meet the following conditions:
The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has extremely specific definitions for the types of temporary employment allowed.
2. Positions that Qualify for H-2B Workers
Employers turn to the H-2B foreign worker program to fill job openings for temporary positions in the following fields:
The H-2B visa program is not used for agricultural work.
3. Leading Industries for H-2B Workers
H2B visa recruitment agencies regularly recruit foreign workers for groundskeeping/landscaping positions. Approximately 40% of all visas issued are for landscaping services which make it the number one industry that regularly turns to foreign workers to fill the labor shortage.
Jobs in forestry are the second leading employer for H-2B visa workers.
Forestry job functions include:
4. Employer Requirements to Use the H-2B Visa Program
In order for a U.S employer to use the H-2B visa program to fill their workforce needs, they must prove the following:
The employer must actively seek to fill the position with a U.S. worker before hiring foreign workers from the H-2B recruitment agency.
An employer seeking to recruit foreign workers using the H-2B visa program is required to pay for both inboard and outboard transportation along with a daily travel subsistence.
The employer is not required to provide housing or daily transportation. However, if the employer elects to offer transportation they are not allowed to charge the worker.
Employers who decide to offer housing and utilities can deduct a certain amount of the fees from the worker’s pay.
Requirements for foreign workers using the H-2B visa include:
5. Cap Set for the H-2B Visa Program
The federal H-2B visa program is Congressionally capped with only 66,000 visas issued annually.
For the last several fiscal years, the Department of Homeland Security has authorized additional H-2B visas to meet the needs of U.S. employers. Parameters are laid forth to dictate who will qualify for the expanded number of visas. They publish the information under the Final Rule which also contains guidance on how to obtain additional visas.
U.S. employers should never rely on additional visas being released each year. It is always a one-time occurrence that is based on the current situation.
6. When Can a Visa Holder Start Work?
Once the foreign worker receives one of the allotted visas, the worker can start work according to the following:
Once an employer is granted approval to hire an H-2B worker and the employee starts work then the employer is required to promptly notify the USCIS if any of the following should occur with the foreign worker:
7. Expanded Number of Visas Issued
For the last several years, the USCIS has accepted visa petitions for the H-2B that are exempt from the cap. Exempt workers can change the terms of their employment, or extend their stay.
Supervisors and processors in the fish roe processing industry are exempt from the cap.
Visa holders who perform labor in the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Island and/or Guam are exempt from the cap.
Employers and workers wishing to obtain an H-2B visa should be prepared to wait to receive the visa. It is not a speedy process and there is no guarantee that a worker will be one of the lucky individuals allotted a visa.
The standard processing time to receive an H-2B visa is 60 to 120 days.
It usually takes 60 days for the Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) and application to be reviewed so an employer should submit at least 90 days prior. Ideally, the process should start at least 150 days before the expected start date to ensure that the employer obtains the workers they need.
9. Limitations of the H-2B Visa Program
The H-2B visa program does have limitations for employers such as:
In order to use the H-2B visa program an employer meets each of the legal requirements.
10. Time Allotment and Extensions
The H-2B foreign worker can remain in the United States only for the time outlined on Form ETA-750A. The worker cannot stay longer than 12 months.
At the end of the allotted time, the visa holder can file extensions for up to three years. At the end of each year, the visa holder is required to return to their country of origin for at least three months before reapplying for an H-2B visa.
The H-2B foreign visa program lets employers fill positions in areas where a shortage of U.S. workers exists. If you are interested in the H-2B program, please contact AW Labor Solutions to learn more about foreign worker recruitment.