The H-2B is a non-immigrant visa that applies to foreign workers who are not working in the agricultural field. The visa is for employers who have a temporary need for the foreign employee that is intermittent, recurring, peak-load or a one-time occurrence. The H-2B visa is valid for one year or less, though it can be renewed for up to three years.
This is a viable option for Canadians who want to work temporarily in the United States, but who do not have a bachelor's degree or higher. It is also a viable option for U.S. employers who want to hire Canadians for short-term positions, or for positions that are unable to meet certain educational or work experience requirements, such as an H-1B visa, TN visa, or the L visa.
So what types of jobs qualify for an H-2B visa? The list of jobs and employers seem endless. Some employers are families seeking a nanny or au pair. Others are ski resorts that want to hire seasonal ski/snowboarding instructors.
To qualify for an H-2B an H-2B visa:
- The employer must establish that its need for the prospective worker's services or labor is temporary, regardless of whether the underlying job can be described as permanent or temporary. The employer's need is considered temporary if it is a one-time occurrence, a seasonal need, a peak-load need, or an intermittent need.
- The employer must demonstrate that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work.
- The employer must show that the employment of H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
There are many benefits to the H-2B visa. First, the visa covers a broad spectrum of jobs, such as seasonal ski instructors, au pairs, etc. These are jobs that may not normally qualify for other work visas. This visa is also a good option because the educational requirements and work experience requirements are generally less stringent and more flexible than that of other work visas. For example, an H-1B visa generally requires a specialty occupation and a minimum bachelor's degree. These requirements alone usually preclude a nanny from qualifying for an H-1B. Other work visas, such as a TN visa, do not include nanny or au pairs on the occupation list. Finally, the H-2B visa is ideal for employers who need employees, and can only pay wages lower than that which may be required for jobs under a TN visa or an H-1B visa.
One disadvantage is that the H-2B visa requires considerable recruiting efforts by the petitioner - something that many employers may not be able, or willing, to do for an employee who will only be in the United States for a relatively short period of time. Another disadvantage is that the visa is usually valid for one year or less. Given the considerable efforts an employer must undergo to obtain this visa, many people feel that it is not worth it for a one-year visa. While the H-2B can be renewed beyond one year, the inherent nature of the visa requiring a one-time, peak-load, intermittent or recurring need makes it difficult to justify a renewal.