H-2B (Temporary Non-Agricultural Worker Visa)

H-2B visas are for temporary, short-term workers in non-agricultural fields.   To qualify for H-2B nonimmigrant classification:

  • The employer must establish that its need for the prospective worker’s services is temporary, regardless of whether the underlying job can be described as permanent or temporary. The employer’s need is considered temporary if it is a one-time occurrence, a seasonal need, a peak-load need, or an intermittent need;
  • The employer must demonstrate that there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work;
  • The employer must show that the employment of H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers; and
  • Generally, a valid temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor is required.

H-2B petitions may only be approved for nationals of designated countries.  The current list of countries is:  Argentina, Australia, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Croatia Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Estonia, Ethiopia, Fiji, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Jamaica, Japan, Kiribati, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, Mexico, Moldova, Montegro, Nauru, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, New Zealand, Norway, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Romania, Samoa, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, Tonga, Turkey, Tuvalu, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Vanuatu. 

There is an annual statutory numerical limit, or “cap,” on the total number of applicants who may be provided H-2B nonimmigrant classification.  Currently, the H-2B cap set by Congress per fiscal year is 66,000, with 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the 1st half of the fiscal year (October 1 - March 31) and 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the 2nd half of the fiscal year (April 1 - September 30). Any unused numbers from the first half of the fiscal year will be made available for use by employers seeking to hire H-2B workers during the second half of the fiscal year.  There is no “carry over” of unused H-2B numbers from one fiscal year to the next. 

According to the Department of Labor statistics, the following is a sampling of the types of jobs for which employers requested H-2B visa status in the past.  


  • Landscape laborer
  • Stable attendant
  • Circus laborer
  • Shellfish shucker
  • Musicians and singers
  • Lifeguard
  • Swimming pool servicer
  • Gambling dealer
  • Sales clerk
  • Animal trainer
  • Snowmaker
  • Professional-athletics coach
  • Camp counselor
  • Butcher
  • Poultry eviscerator
  • Flight attendants
  • Baker
  • Helicopter pilot
  • Golf range attendant
  • Beekeeper
  • Horseshoer
  • Professional athlete