H-2A and H-2B Seasonal Worker Visa

The H-2A and H-2B programs allow U.S. employers to bring in foreign labor to fill temporary, seasonal jobs. The H-2A program is for temporary agricultural workers, while the H-2B program is for temporary non-agricultural workers. Only nationals of certain designated countries are eligible to be approved for participation in the H-2A and H-2B programs. The Department of Homeland Security publishes the list of eligible countries each year in a Federal Register notice.

H-2A Temporary Agricultural Workers

The H-2A classification is for temporary agricultural jobs, e.g., planting and harvesting crops. A petitioning employer seeking to hire foreign workers for an H-2A visa must meet the following requirements:

  • The job must be of a temporary or seasonal nature.
  • Employer must demonstrate that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available for the job.
  • Employer must show that there will be no adverse effect on the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Workers

The H-2B classification is for temporary non-agricultural jobs. A petitioning employer seeking to hire foreign workers for an H-2B visa must meet the following requirements:

  • Employer must demonstrate that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available for the job.
  • Employer must show that there will be no adverse effect on the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
  • Employer must show that its need for H-2B workers is "temporary," which can be shown in four different ways:
    • One-Time Occurrence — has not employed workers for the job in the past and will not do so in the future, or a temporary event has created a need for additional temporary workers.
    • Seasonal Need — the job must be traditionally tied to a season by an event or pattern, and it must be of a recurring nature.
    • Peakload Need — regularly employs permanent staff but needs temporary supplemental workers due to seasonal or short-term demand, and the temporary additions of staff will not become part of the employer's regular operations.
    • Intermittent Need — has not employed permanent workers for the job and intermittently needs temporary workers for short periods of time.

Numerical Limitations

There is no cap on the number of H-2A visas that may be issued.  In contrast, the H-2B program is limited to 66,000 visas per fiscal year, with 33,000 allocated to the first half (October 1 - March 31) and 33,000 allocated to the second half (April 1 - September 30). There are some exemptions from the cap.

How We Can Help

  • We prepare and file the temporary labor certification application.
  • We complete the application and supporting documentation.
  • We provide representation through the process of obtaining the visa at the consulate abroad.

We welcome you to contact the Brian M. Wang | Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP to schedule a consultation about how we may be of service in your immigration matter. Based in the Albany, NY Capital District area, we assist clients throughout New York, in all 50 states, and worldwide with United States immigration law.

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