The H-2B visa allows foreign nationals who are citizens of certain named counties, with limited exceptions, to accept temporary non-agricultural employment in the United Sates, after the employer has obtained temporary labor certification by establishing that there were no willing, able, and qualified U.S. workers available during the period of recruitment.

H-2B Visa Requirements

To qualify for H-2B nonimmigrant classification, the petitioner must establish that:

  • There are not enough U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified, and available to do the temporary work as evidenced by a valid temporary labor certification from the Department of Labor.
  • The employment of H-2B workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
  • Its need for the prospective worker’s services or labor is temporary, regardless of whether the underlying job can be described as temporary.  The employer’s need is considered temporary if it is a(n):
  • one-time occurrence 
  • seasonal need
  • peakload need
  • intermittent need


There is a 66,000 statutory numerical limit, or “cap,” on the total number of individuals who may receive H-2B nonimmigrant classification during a fiscal year.

Once the H-2B cap is reached, USCIS may only accept petitions for H-2B workers who are exempt from the H-2B cap.

H-2B List of Eligible Countries

Effective Jan. 18, 2013, nationals from the following countries are eligible to participate in the H-2B program:

Argentina Estonia Kiribati Peru Tonga
Australia  Ethiopia Latvia Philippines Turkey
Barbados Fiji Lithuania Poland Tuvalu
Belize Grenada Macedonia Romania  Ukraine
Brazil Guatemala Mexico Samoa United Kingdom
Bulgaria Haiti Moldova  Serbia Uruguay
Canada Honduras Montenegro  Slovakia Vanuatu
Chile Hungary Nauru  Slovenia 0
Costa Rica Iceland  The Netherlands Solomon Islands 0
Croatia Ireland Nicaragua South Africa 0
 Dominican Republic Israel New Zealand South Korea 0
Ecuador Jamaica Norway Spain 0
El Salvador Japan Papua New Guinea Switzerland 0

Period of Stay

H-2B classification may be granted for up to the period of time authorized on the temporary labor certification.   H-2B classification may be extended for qualifying employment in increments of up to 1 year each.   A new, valid temporary labor certification covering the requested time must accompany each extension request.  The maximum period of stay in H-2B classification is 3 years.

A person who has held H-2B nonimmigrant status for a total of 3 years must depart and remain outside the United States for an uninterrupted period of 3 months before seeking readmission as an H-2B nonimmigrant.  Additionally, previous time spent in other H or L classifications counts toward total H-2B time.

Family Members

Dependent Spouses and Children of H-2B nonimmigrants may qualify for H-4 dependent status.

Family Members of H-2B nonimmigrants are not work authorized while on H-4 status.