H-2B visa – A Path to Employment in post-Pandemic USA

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A significant number of U.S. employers are experiencing a shortage of employees as a result of the “Great Resignation” brought about by the pandemic.

With this reality U.S. businesses find themselves in need of employees who either left or were let go during the height of the coronavirus outbreak.

The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows only 66,000 visas for each fiscal year. But recently, more visa numbers are being added to this temporary work program. USCIS announced in May 2022 that 35,000 additional H-2B visas were made available for the second half of the fiscal year 2022.

The H-2B visa could well be any immigrant’s path to employment in the United States, albeit only temporarily.

What is the H-2B?

The H-2B visa is also known as the temporary nonagricultural worker visa.

These are given to non-Americans who would like to work for companies that would otherwise suffer “impending irreparable harm” if they did not employ non-citizens.

Here are the conditions that need to be met for granting the visa:

  1. The employment needs to be for a limited period
  2. The limited period must be less than a year
  3. The employers must prove that there are not enough American workers to do the temporary work
  4. The employment of the non-Americans must not affect the wages for American workers posted in similar jobs

Those who wish to get an H-2B meanwhile need to get a job offer from an American employer that can meet the above criteria.

Applicants need to prove that they will return to their country after the temporary employment.

After the first limited period is complete, the employee can extend their employment for up to 3 years if the employer can prove that the employee is still needed.

The problem and the opportunity

The problem is that within days of the USCIS’s announcement, the cap for applications was already reached.

But, this is not the end for H-2B and other paths for employment.

The 35,000 cap was announced after the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics reported 11.4 million job openings in April.

Months later, employers are still looking for employees, and they may well have their sights beyond America alone.

For tailored advice for those interested in the H-2B and other topics on migration, do not hesitate to reach out to a legal expert.

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