US Announces Availability of 35,000 Additional H-2B Visas

(CNN Spanish) — To work legally in the United States, you do not need to be a professional or have vast experience in any specific field. Just want to work and take advantage of the thousands of temporary worker visas the country offers for agricultural and non-agricultural work, known as H-2A and H-2B visas.

And while you need a sponsor (a company) to hire you — you won’t be able to apply individually — here’s some good news.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) announced in mid-May the availability of an additional 35,000 H-2B visas for temporary non-agricultural workers for the second half of fiscal year 2022. These additional visas can be applied for by US employers from April 1, 2022 through September 30, 2022.

“These additional H-2B visas will help employers meet the demand for seasonal workers at this critical time, when there is a severe labor shortage,” said Secretary Alejandro N. Mayorkas.

The United States is currently going through a labor shortage. In March, a record 4.5 million workers quit their jobs, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The number of resignations increased most significantly in the professional and business services sector, as well as in the construction sector. The overall resignation rate rose to 3%, a level not seen since December 2021.

“As employers require workers to return to offices, resignations are on the rise. One of the top reasons to quit is finding a remote opportunity,” wrote on Twitter ZipRecruiter economist Julia Pollak.

However, 23,500 of these visas are available to workers returning to work temporarily in the US under an H-2B visa or to those who were granted H-2B status during one of the last three fiscal years. the remaining 11,500 visas are reserved for citizens of Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

Unlike H-2A visas, H-2B visas are typically subject to a congressionally determined annual cap, currently 66,000 workers per year.

However, the DHS and DOL have raised the ceiling a couple of times in order to “ensure that American businesses are equipped with the necessary resources to successfully recover and contribute to the economic health of local communities,” it said. the DHS. For example, in April they announced the availability of an additional 35,000 H-2B visas and in January they announced the availability of 20,000 additional H-2B visas.

What are H-2 visas?

A woman chops crabs at WT Ruark Seafood Co. on May 17, 2018 in Hoopers Island, Maryland. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Every year, the United States grants thousands of H-2 visas to experienced and inexperienced workers (non-professionals and without an academic degree) to work temporarily in the country. This category is divided into two types of visas: the H-2A for agricultural workers and the H-2B for non-agricultural workers.

In 2021, the US granted a total of 97,268 H-2B visas, filled mostly by seafood processors, gardeners and forestry workers.

The countries whose citizens received the highest number of H-2B visas were Mexico with 73.6%, followed by Jamaica with 9.2% and Guatemala with 3.5%, according to a report from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Participating countries

In November, the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) released an updated list of countries eligible for this type of visa, “whose nationals are eligible to participate in the programs”. That is, if you are from any of the following countries on the list, you can apply for these visas to work in fiscal year 2022.

“The H-2A and H-2B visa programs allow US employers to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill agricultural and non-agricultural employment positions, respectively,” USCIS said in a news release.

Citizens of these Latin American countries (there are also other countries in the world) are eligible to apply for H-2A and H-2B visas.

  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • Chili
  • Colombia
  • Costa Rica
  • Ecuador
  • The Savior
  • Guatemala
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Mexico
  • Nicaragua
  • Panama
  • Paraguay (citizens of this country are eligible to participate in the H-2A program, but not in the H-2B program)
  • Peru
  • Dominican Republic
  • Uruguay

To see other countries of the world, you can see the list here.

How to apply for an H-2B visa?

How to apply for the H-2B visa to work in the US 2:19

The petitioner or employer must show that there are not enough US workers who are “able, willing, available, and qualified to perform the temporary work.”

Employing workers under the H-2B visa must not adversely affect US workers employed in similar tasks, and the work of the candidate workers must be of a temporary nature. USCIS considers temporary if a job:

  • One-Time Occurrence: A petitioner argues that the need is a one-time occurrence and demonstrates that they have not previously hired workers to perform the service and will not need them in the future, or that it is a permanent employment situation but a temporary event or of 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.

Broadly speaking, the application process for the H2-B program is as follows:

  • The petitioner files an application for a DOL Temporary Employment Certification for Foreign Labor.
  • The petitioner must file a Form I-129 with USCIS.
  • Candidate workers outside the US must apply for the H-2B visa at a US embassy or consulate abroad and then apply for admission at a port of entry. To the appointment they must bring a valid passport, a valid petition number (found in the job offer) and proof of payment of the visa application of US$ 190.

How long can I work in the US on an H2-B visa?

The maximum period of stay is 3 years. After 3 years, H-2B visa beneficiaries must leave the US for a period of 3 uninterrupted months before requesting readmission under the same type of visa.

The H-2B visa is granted for a period of one year, although it can be requested for two extensions of up to one year each. The extension request must be submitted before its expiration date and the workers will be able to remain in the US during the extension process.

Workers who receive the extension do not have to process a new visa, as long as they do not leave the US, and if they return to their country of origin, they must apply for a new visa before re-entering the North American country.

— With information from Alejandra Ramos of CNN en Español.

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