H-2B visa

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The H-2B visa nonimmigrant program permits employers to hire foreign workers to come temporarily to the United States and perform temporary nonagricultural services or labor on a one-time, seasonal, peakload or intermittent basis.[1]

The H-2B visa classification requires the United States Secretary of Homeland Security to consult with appropriate agencies before admitting H-2B non-immigrants. Homeland Security regulations require that, except for Guam, the petitioning employer first apply for a temporary labor certification from the United States Secretary of Labor indicating that: (1) there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are capable of performing the temporary services or labor at the time of filing the petition for H-2B classification and at the place where the foreign worker is to perform the work; and (2) the employment of the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. The Department of Labor will review and process all H-2B applications on a first in, first out basis.[2]

Employers seeking to employ temporary H-2B workers must apply for Temporary Employment Certification to the Chicago National Processing Center (NPC). An employer may submit a request for multiple unnamed foreign workers as long as each worker is to perform the same services or labor, on the same terms and conditions, in the same occupation, in the same area of intended employment during the same period of employment. Certification is issued to the employer, not the worker, and is not transferable from one employer to another or from one worker to another.[2]

Temporary increases[edit]

Although capped at 66,000 per year, the H-2B numerical cap was increased in 2017 by then United States Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly. These visas were made available only to American businesses which attested that they would likely suffer irreparable harm without the ability to employ all the H-2B workers requested in their original petition.[3]


Below are H-2B visas issued each year as released by the U.S. Department of State - Bureau of Consular Affairs.[4]

Fiscal Year Total number of H-2B visas issued
1987 62
1988 683
1989 9,575
1990 11,843
1991 14,573
1992 12,552
1993 9,691
1994 10,400
1995 11,737
1996 12,200
1997 15,706
1998 20,192
1999 30,642
2000 45,037
2001 58,215
2002 62,591
2003 78,955
2004 76,169
2005 87,492
2006 71,687
2007 60,227
2008 94,304
2009 44,847
2010 47,403
2011 50,826
2012 50,009
2013 57,600
2014 68,102
2015 69,684
2016 84,627
2017 83,600
2018 83,774
2019 97,623
2020 61,865
2021 95,053

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Staff writer (January 17, 2011). "Barbados added to US work visa list". BBCCaribbean.com. 21:40 UTC. Retrieved January 17, 2011. Barbados is among 15 countries added to a list eligible to participate in two United States foreign workers programmes known and H2A and H2B. [. . .] Jamaica, Belize and the Dominican Republic are among the 53 nations approved under both programmes.
  2. ^ a b H-2B Certification for Temporary Non-Agricultural Work From website of the United States Department of Labor. Material used may be based on direct quotations as the text of the page is the work of employees of the Federal Government during performance of their duties, thus in the Public Domain, accessed October 7, 2010
  3. ^ "One-Time Increase in H-2B Nonimmigrant Visas for FY2017, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services". uscis.gov. Retrieved April 5, 2018.
  4. ^ "Report of the Visa Office 2021". travel.state.gov. Retrieved July 15, 2022.

External links and further reading[edit]