Visa Information & Characteristics
The H-2A and the H-2B are the same visas except for eligibility. If we do not precise H-2A or H-2B below, it means it is valid for both.
To petition for an H-2B or H-2A, you, your entity, and the employment type should be eligible.
Workers from those 70+ countries below are eligible to participate in the H-2B or H-2A program:
Andorra, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Republic of Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, North Macedonia, Madagascar, Malta, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Mozambique, Nauru, The Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saint Lucia, San Marino, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia.
Workers from Moldova and Paraguay are eligible to participate in the H-2A but not the H-2B program. Workers from Mongolia and The Philippines are eligible to participate in the H-2A but not the H-2B program. See here for more information about the H-2B eligible countries, and here for more information about the H-2A eligible countries.
Any entities that can demonstrate that insufficient U.S. workers are available for a temporary need they have, can take on the H-2B or H-2A obligations.
The employment must be of a temporary nature for a limited period of time such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal need, peak load need, or intermittent need.
The work schedule must be at least 35 hours per week. Employers can require additional hours.
The tax form must be a W-2 form, and not 1099.
The work hours must be paid at least the Federal minimum wage, State minimum wage, or local minimum wage.
If the employment is agricultural work and meets the condition above, it is eligible for an H-2A. If is it not agricultural work (labor or service) but meets the condition above, it is eligible for an H-2B.
Here are some examples of H-2A jobs (not limited to): Nurseries and greenhouse growers, Fruit growers, Vineyards and hop growers, Vegetable, tobacco, and other field crop grower, beekeeper, Custom combine operator, Hay, grain, and wheat grower, Christmas tree grower, Horse breeder, truck driver, etc.
Here are some examples of H-2B jobs (not limited to): Landscaping laborer, Greenskeeper, line cook, construction worker, floor runner, tree planter, manufacturing operator, outdoor entertainment worker, cleaner, etc.
Length of Stay
H-2 Visa & Employment Duration
The H-2B or H-2A maximum period of stay is usually 3 or 5 years depending on your country. Check here the duration of the H-2B and H-2A for your country. After your visa expiration, you’ll need to return to your home country for at least 3 months before becoming eligible for a new H-2A or H-2B visa. There is no limit to the H-2 number you can get.
You’ll be tied to working for your employer(s) willing to take on the H-2 obligations. As long as you are employed at your H-2 employer, your H-2 is valid. When your temporary employment has ended, your H-2 visa will stay valid for 10 days after your last day working for your H-2 employer.
Visa & Employment Transfer
As long as your H-2 is valid, you, your new entity, and your new occupation are eligible for an H-2, you can file an H-2 extension with the same employer if he can prove he exceptionally temporarily needs you for a longer time, or with another U.S. H-2 employer. The extension is in increments of up to 1 year each, and up to the maximum period of stay you are eligible for.
Please note you can not interexchange between an H-2A and an H-2B. Your new employment should be non-agricultural if you have an H-2B, or agricultural if you have an H-2A.
Transfer to Another Visa
There are no restrictions that restrain you to file for or get another type of visa other than the H-1B when you have a valid H-1B visa or after.
The H-1B is a dual intent visa, meaning it’s an easier path to permanent residency (Green Card).
Compensation & Benefits
You will be paid the same rate as someone locally. The employer will also pay for your transportation and may facilitate and pay for housing.
Whether you currently have a valid H-2B or H-2A, are an H2 returning worker or a new H2 worker, here is how it works:
Your spouse and unmarried children under 21 years of age can be your dependents and will be able to come and live in the United States with you under an H-4 visa.
Your spouse and children under an H-4 will be able to study in the United States.
Your spouse under an H-4 will be able to file for an EAD (Employment Authorization Document) after your arrival and will be able to work in the U.S.A.
Process Step by Step
Here is the process in this right order:
- The entity applies for the prevailing wage and the temporary labor certification for new H-2B workers
- Find a job at an entity with an approved temporary labor certification for H-2B (if you do not have a valid H-2B)
- Your entity files an H-2B petition with you
- Apply for the H-2B (if you are outside the USA)
- Get the H-2B visa and travel to the USA (if you are outside the USA)
You can not skip any steps. For example, if you find a job at an entity with no approved certification for H-2B and do not have a valid H-2B, the entity won’t be able to file an H-2B petition with you. And if your entity hasn’t filed any H-2B petition and got approved for it, you won’t be able to apply for the H-2B visa.
Job Search Duration
Your job search duration (step 2 above) will vary depending on your profile and how hard the difficulty is for U.S. employers to hire in your field.
By using USponsorMe, you’ll save 10x more time, see why here. Our jobs are with H-2B visa sponsorship offered (from an entity with an approved temporary labor certification). But more importantly, when you subscribe to one of our USponsorMe+ plans, we will tell you if your project is feasible or not with an H-2B or what is missing in your profile to be feasible, how long we estimate your job search will take, and we will select H-2B jobs for you and send them to you.
The time to get a job by using USponsorMe varies depending on the number of jobs you receive and apply for per month, your fit for the jobs, the quality of your applications, and your performance at job interviews. For example, a USponsorMe member with all licenses and credentials needed, with an American resume and cover letter rewritten by an expert, who applies for 5 or more targeted jobs on USponsorMe weekly and is ready to master job interviews, usually gets the ideal job offer with visa sponsorship within 4 months.
Visa Process Duration
The visa process for employers is steps 1 to 3 above.
The H-2B visa process on the company side usually takes 5 months. The entity will ask for the number of workers it needs to hire for the temporary need.
There are two (2) annual deadlines for the employer to file an H-2 petition; in March and in September with a cap of 33,000 workers for each. If the cap is reached, any unused numbers from the first half of the fiscal year will be available for employers seeking to hire H-2B workers during the second half of the fiscal year. Unused H-2B numbers from one fiscal year do not carry over into the next fiscal year.
The visa process for employers is from steps 4 to 5 above.
It usually takes 4-6 weeks for candidates to obtain an H-2 visa. As long as the entity is authorized to hire new H-2 workers by the US Department of Labor, you can apply for your H-2 anytime during the year, there is no annual deadline for you to apply for an H-2 visa with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) at a U.S. embassy or consulate. Your deadline will be the first day of employment.
There is no visa or recruitment fee in charge of the candidates.