H2B or not 2B?

If you’re not finding enough workers locally – Anglo, Latino or otherwise – to fill your seasonal or temporary needs, you may be able to sponsor a worker or workers from below the border using the H2B visa program.

But to qualify to bring in workers under the H2B program you have to meet a long list of criteria. For example:

  • The work must be temporary in nature; a one-time project, a seasonal need, a peak load need or an intermittent need.
  • You must first post job requests locally to offer the positions to current residents of your area – and prove the response to these requests was insufficient to your needs.
  • You have to establish that you have not employed resident workers in the past to perform these same services or labor.
  • You must pay H2B workers the equivalent to a prevailing wage in your area
  • You must provide free housing to H2B workers who can’t return to their country-of-origin residences at the end of the day.
  • You must provide meals and transportation on a daily basis and reimburse these workers on the costs they incur getting from their country of origin to your work sites.

It takes anywhere from 60 to 120 days to process an H2B visa. The visas are normally good for one year, but with extensions and proof of extraordinary circumstances you can get up to three years. And the workers you import under an H2B visa can apply for a green card while they’re in the United States.

The U.S. government allows up to 66,000 foreign workers into the country on H2B visas every year. This cap used to be considered plenty, but in the last two years the annual cap was reached in March. This shut down any further H2B immigration for the remainder of the year and left many employers who depended on a steady flow of H2B workers stranded.

Many contractors use an immigration lawyer to help them follow all the correct procedures. To find an immigration lawyer in your area you can call the American Immigration Lawyers Association at (202) 216-2400 or visit the website.

For more information on H2B visas visit the USCIS website.

Where did the INS go?
Employers used to dealing with the Immigration and Naturalization Service should note that it was abolished on March 1, 2003, and its functions and units incorporated into a new multi-faceted organization.

When President Bush signed the Homeland Security Act of 2002 into law he transferred INS functions to the new Department of Homeland Security. The basic police work of investigations and arrests of people and companies suspected of immigration violations now are done by Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Customs and Immigration Service provides administrative support and services to people seeking to gain citizenship or legal immigration into the United States.