(CNN Spanish) – Each year, the United States grants thousands of H-2 visas to workers with or without experience (non-professional and without an academic degree) to work temporarily in the country. This category is divided into two types of visas: H-2A visas for agricultural workers and H-2B visas for non-agricultural workers.
In 2020, the United States granted a total of 65,716 H-2B visas, mostly occupied by gardeners, forest workers, and meat cutters.
The countries whose citizens obtained the most H-2B visas were Mexico with 74.7%, followed by Jamaica with 8.9% and Guatemala with 2.7%, according to a report by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS).
Unlike H-2A visas, H-2B visas are subject to an annual limit set by Congress and are currently 66,000 workers annually.
However, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the US Department of Labor (DOL) announced in May that they would increase the cap on additional visas to 22,000. until the end of fiscal year 2021 “to ensure that U.S. companies are equipped with the resources necessary to recover successfully and contribute to the economic health of local communities.”
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According to the Department of Homeland Security, 16,000 of these visas will allow employers to hire H-2B workers already in the United States without having to wait for approval of a new petition, while 6,000 visas are reserved for Guatemalan citizens. Legal avenues of opportunity in the United States”.
But what are the procedures for applying for this visa and who is eligible? Here are the steps for obtaining an H-2B visa.
The petitioner or employer must demonstrate that there are not enough U.S. workers “trained, willing, available, and qualified to perform temporary employment.”
Employing workers on an H-2B visa must not adversely affect U.S. workers in similar jobs, and the work of the nominated workers must be temporary in nature. USCIS is considered temporary if the job:
It Happens Once: The petitioner says the need only occurs once and shows that they have never hired workers to perform the service and won’t need it in the future, or it is a permanent employment situation but is a temporary event or the short duration created the need for a temporary worker.
It is seasonal: the service or job for which you are seeking workers is related to an event or pattern of events of a recurring nature.
In general, the application process for the H2-B program is as follows:
The petitioner submits an application for a certificate of temporary employment of foreign workers from the Ministry of Labor.
The petitioner must file Form I-129 with USCIS.
Candidate workers outside the United States will need to apply for an H-2B visa at a US embassy or consulate abroad and then apply for admission at the port of entry. They must bring a valid passport, a valid petition number (found on the job offer) and proof of payment of the $190 visa application to the appointment.
How long can I work in the US on an H2-B visa?
The maximum period of stay is 3 years. After 3 years, the recipient of an H-2B visa must leave the United States for a continuous period of 3 months before applying for readmission under the same type of visa.
The H-2B visa is granted for one year, although it can be requested to be extended twice for up to one year each. The extension application must be submitted before expiration and workers can remain in the United States during the extension process.
Workers who obtain the extension do not have to apply for a new visa, as long as they do not leave the United States, and if they return to their country of origin, they must apply for a new visa before returning to the North American country.
Can I bring my family to the United States?
Yes, an H-2B agent can bring a spouse or unmarried children under the age of 21 under an H-4 designation. However, family members are not eligible to work in the United States.
Countries Eligible for H-2B Visas
These are the Latin American countries eligible to participate in the H-2B program in 2021:
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