In 2021, for the first time in history, the Department of Labor and the Department of Homeland Security issued a temporary final rule increase on the H-2B cap to 22,000 visas for the fiscal year of 2021.
Step 1: A temporary certification application must be submitted to the DOL prior to asking the USCIS for an H-2B classification.
Step 2: An employer must fill out and submit I-129 to USCIS. Any application processed using the DOL’s FLAG system must include a single copy of the H-2B temporary labor certification approval, often called the ‘final determination’. If the original temporary labor certification has already been provided previously then the petitioner can provide an explanation along with the receipt number of the petition that accompanied the original when it was filed.
Step 3: A prospective foreign worker must apply for the H-2B visa for admission into the United States.
Upon submission, the Chicago NPC will review the application to ensure that there are no errors which could cause roadblocks in the processing. They will also check to make sure that the employer is within compliance to receive certification.
The Chicago NPC is in charge of rendering a final determination on whether or not to deny, certify or issue a Request for Further Information (RFI) before giving a Final Determination on the application.
After evaluation, if the Chicago NPC determines that the employer has met the necessary requirement and fails certain criteria for complete certification then they will give the employer the opportunity to take care of the issues with the application. They will issue a notification that will outline the steps the employer needs to take to meet the required criteria for certification.
The Chicago NPC will issue a final determination.
The H-2B processing time usually takes from 60 to 120 days. When an H-2B visa petition is submitted before January 1st then the H-2B worker can usually start work by June.
Non-compliance fines are $6,000 per violation and can quickly be compounded depending on the number of violations. An employer can often face violation fees that top $100,000 due to the potential number of violations that are stacked one on top of the other.
Common violations include the following:
The first step in the H-2B process starts with an employer advertising for U.S. workers to fit their employment needs. If they are unable to hire U.S. workers, then the employee will need to apply to the local state workforce agency to gain their temporary labor certificate. At this point, they will need to present required documents and pay all necessary fees.
Before filing an H-2B application, the employer should also take the time to send a prevailing wage request to the Department of Labor.
After gaining approval from the DOL, the employer can then apply with the USCIS. In addition, they will need to file a Form I-129 to obtain the H-2B visas.
From start to finish, the H-2B visa process might take four to six months. Ideally, any employer who is seeking H-2B foreign workers to fill their labor needs should start the process at least six months before the employment’s start date.
Foreign workers must apply to obtain an H-2B visa after they gain approval from the USCIS. They will need to apply at the U.S. Department of State located at an embassy or consulate to gain entry permission. With the H-2B classification, they can apply for admission at any U.S. port of entry.
How long is the H-2B visa holder allowed to remain in the United States?
Is there any way for the stay of an H-2B visa holder to be extended beyond 12 months?
Extraordinary circumstances must exist for an employer to retain their temporary H-2B visa holder’s to stay longer than the stated duration of 12 months. The employer must apply for an extension. Every extension request is individually examined and weighed.
A visa holder is allowed to apply for what is referred to as an Extension of Stay, but they must provide valid justification for the extension.
An H-2B visa holder can change employers or jobs but they must have the status on their H-2B visa changed. The new employer is required to file a Form I-129, which is a Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker at the USCIS Regional Service Center.
Yes, an H-2B visa holder can participate in part time or recreational study. However, they cannot attend full time schooling or take any type of educational course that interferes with their job.
Yes, dependents who are unmarried and under the age of 21 can enter the U.S. with an H-4 visa and stay with the H-2B visa holder for the duration of the H-2B visa’s term. An H-2B visa holder’s spouse can also join them in the U.S. with an H-4 visa.
Dependents of an H-2B visa who are in the country with an H-4 visa cannot work in the U.S. They are required to obtain a work visa.
Yes, an H-4 depends on can attend school in the U.S. They must apply for an F-1 student visa to attend school.
Any holder of an H-2B visa is allowed to travel throughout the U.S. and back to their country of origin without any restrictions.
Employers seeking H-2B foreign workers should start the process at least 60 to 120 days before the workers are needed for the job. Please remember, that the H-2B visa process is lengthy and complicated so an employer should always provide sufficient time for the process to take place and take into consideration any delays or corrections needed on the applications. Working with a skilled H-2B recruitment agency can streamline the process.
The employer will receive written notification issued by the Certifying Officer that the application has been successfully accepted for consideration.
The prospective employer will receive notification if there is a problem with the application. They will typically issue a Request for Information when the application is unacceptable or if there are any necessary changes needed on the application. The employer will usually have seven days to make any needed changes and resubmit. If the visa is denied, then the employer can apply an appeal.
An employer is allowed to re-submit an amended application within five days after receiving the notice of non-acceptance.
H-2B visa applications are often denied for the following reasons:
An H-2B visa holder can apply for a Green Card.
There are a variety of reasons why employers are turning to H-2B foreign workers to fill their labor needs.
The H-2B program provides a source of dependable, capable, and legal labor to meet the temporary employment needs of employers. Most H-2B foreign workers opt to return to the same employer year after year which provides a steadfast workforce for the employer’s seasonal needs.
Collaborating with a foreign worker employment agency such as AW Labor Solutions, helps employers connect with thousands of workers each year plus the recruitment team provides the skills needed to navigate the complex application process.
In recent years, employers face many obstacles when it comes to fulfilling their labor needs. There seems to be an abundance of US jobs but too few US workers to fill them. Luckily, the H-2B foreign worker program is a way to meet the needs of employers with a source of legal labor that is dependable.
With a dependable workforce, a business can grow. AW Labor Solutions helps clients grow their businesses using the H-2B foreign worker program. A stable workforce provides the business owner with the confidence needed to reliably expand their operations and better meet the increased demands of the growing marketplace.
At AW Labor Solutions actively partners with businesses to offer the labor and assistance they need to navigate the H-2B visa program. Please contact us to learn more.