83,774 visas issued in 2018
73% of H-2B visas originate in Mexico
Source: U.S Department of State
Last updated Nov. 2015
The H-2B nonimmigrant visa program allows work in the U.S. at temporary or seasonal non-agricultural jobs as long as the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers are not adversely affected. Employers must first apply to the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) for temporary labor certification affirming that the job is temporary or seasonal in nature, and that U.S. workers are not available for the job. Employers then petition the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) for permission to hire foreign individuals as H-2B nonimmigrants. The H-2B visa does not offer the workers a path to lawful permanent residence or citizenship. There is no particular industry or job type associated with the H-2B visa. Rather, any job that is non-agricultural and meets the requirements of being temporary or seasonal in nature, may potentially be certified. Common H-2B jobs include landscaping, amusement parks, housekeeping, forestry, seafood processing, construction, ski resorts and restaurants in tourist areas. There is a statutory annual limit of 66,000 new H-2B visas available each fiscal year. In 2015, the U.S. Department of State issued 69,684 new H-2B visas. Policy analysts who study the H-2B program question whether it is used for labor shortages or cheap, temporary labor. Within the past several years, the H-2B program has been subject to scrutiny, regulatory reform, and litigation.