The H-2B program allows employers to hire foreign workers for tough-to-fill seasonal jobs. It is the only non-immigrant foreign worker visa program available to non-agricultural employers with temporary, seasonal, or intermittent labor needs. H-2B workers typically come from rural communities (predominantly in Mexico and Central America), go home after each work season, and return to the same U.S. employer year after year.
To participate, employers must complete a complex, multi-stage application process that includes efforts to recruit U.S. workers. Foreign workers can be employed only after the employer demonstrates that insufficient U.S. workers are available for the job.
másH2B ensures that you understand the essential program requirements, effectively use our services to interact with regulatory agencies, and obtain the workforce you need to sustain and grow your business. As the nation’s leading provider of comprehensive H-2B services, we help hundreds of American businesses each year secure a capable, reliable, legal workforce to meet their seasonal labor needs.
- We offer labor solutions for seasonal employers in more states, in a greater diversity of industries, than any other H-2B service provider.
- We combine superior, best available expertise with friendly, personalized service, regardless of your operation’s size or number of workers needed.
- We deliver industry-leading results, maximizing your H-2B program benefits while minimizing your potential liabilities.
The H-2B program involves multiple governmental agencies, and every year new challenges and potential pitfalls emerge for employers. másH2B helps you navigate the process by:
- Developing customized application materials tailored to your specific seasonal or intermittent labor needs;
- Interfacing with state and federal agencies to ensure timely approval of your application; and
- Providing comprehensive guidance on your ongoing compliance obligations.
“I have had the pleasure of working with másLabor since 2010, and I cannot say enough positive comments about how well organized they are. All of our workers arrived safely and ready to work…and it’s all because of the dedication of másLabor.” Woodloch Pines Resort Hawley, PA
“The H-2B visa program is safe, legal, mutually beneficial, and allows our seasonal employees to support their families…másLabor has navigated the complex and often uncertain regulatory changes of the H-2B program to successfully fulfill our need for seasonal workers.” Farmington Country Club Charlottesville, VA
“We can say unequivocally that másLabor has served us well since we started with the H-2B program. The relationship has been a business partnership in the truest sense of the word, and we look forward to futher growth together.” Detailed Environments, Inc. Warrington, PA
- Recruiting qualified workers who are ready, willing, and able to do the job;
- Helping workers prepare their individual visa applications; and
- Assisting workers through the consular interview process and arranging transportation to your place of business.
The H-2B program is governed by complex laws and regulations. másH2B provides front-end compliance guidance and advice on H-2B program requirements, including:
H-2B Visa Cap. Federal law currently limits issuance of H-2B visas to 66,000 per year (33,000 for each half fiscal year, beginning October 1 and April 1, respectively). Demand for H-2B visas greatly exceeds that limited supply. másH2B devotes considerable time, effort, and resources to minimizing our clients’ cap risk. We developed sophisticated quality assurance procedures to ensure complete and accurate application materials, and consistently advocate for program reform.
Recruiting. Employers must conduct local U.S. worker recruitment by advertising the job opportunity online and internally at your place of business, contacting former employees, and accepting State Workforce Agency (SWA) referrals. másH2B helps ensure you meet all domestic recruiting obligations.
Transportation. Employers must pay H-2B workers’ transportation costs to the employment location and back to their homes at the end of the season. Our preferred foreign worker facilitators help arrange least-cost transportation and másH2B provides detailed travel reimbursement guidance.
Wages. Employers must pay H-2B workers a government-mandated wage rate. másH2B obtains a prevailing wage determination on your behalf.
Who is eligible to participate in the H-2B program?
Any U.S. employer demonstrating a recurring seasonal or peakload labor need may utilize the H-2B program. Examples of industries and operations currently using the program to meet some or all seasonal labor needs include:
Greenskeepers and golf course maintenance companies
Resorts, hotels, and restaurants
Contractors—asphalt and paving, masonry, framing and roofing, and other seasonal construction trades
Tree planters and seasonal lumber mills
Manufacturers of seasonal items and seasonal maintenance companies
Seasonal retailers or wholesalers, including nurseries and garden centers
Food processors and produce packers, including seafood processors and fish packers
Tent rental/installation, outdoor entertainment employers, and other special event companies
When do I apply for the H-2B program?
The H-2B application process generally takes about 120 days. Several initial steps, including the Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD), must be completed in advance of your U.S. Department of Labor application, which occurs no earlier than 90 days and no later than 75 days before your start date of need. Please contact másH2B at least 210 days (seven months) prior to your start date of need to give our staff time to prepare initial paperwork and develop appropriate application materials per your specific needs.
How does the H-2B application process work?
First, másH2B files your ETA 9141 – Application for Prevailing Wage Determination with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). DOL then issues a Prevailing Wage Determination (“PWD”) based on the counties/localities in your application and the nature of the job duties to be performed. You are required to pay the prevailing wage to all workers performing H-2B job duties.
Next, másH2B concurrently files a “job order” with your local State Workforce Agency (SWA) and your ETA 9142 – Application for Temporary Employment Certification with DOL. The SWA and DOL review your filings to determine if they meet all applicable requirements and comply with state and federal law, respectively. DOL then issues a Notice of Acceptance and provides instructions for recruiting U.S. workers. másH2B helps you prepare a report documenting your recruitment efforts. After receipt of this initial recruitment report, DOL issues your labor certification.
Finally, másH2B files your I-129 – Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker (“visa petition”) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), a U.S. Department of Homeland Security agency. USCIS reviews your visa petition and the DOL labor certification to determine if you have satisfied the H-2B program requirements. Approval from USCIS allows másH2B to schedule visa interview appointments for your prospective workers at the U.S. Consulate or Embassy in their home country.
What is the H-2B visa "cap"?
The H-2B program is limited by a statutory cap on the number of visas that can be issued in a single year. Since 1990, the cap has been set at 66,000 visas (33,000 for each half of the fiscal year, beginning on October 1 and April 1, respectively). While the cap has remained constant, the H-2B user base has experienced exponential growth. Demand for H-2B visas is now several times the available supply.
In practice, the H-2B cap means that countless employers are unable to obtain workers, despite complying in full with all H-2B application requirements. This is a significant issue for both returning employers relying on the H-2B program for years, as well as employers using the program for the first time. Employers should be aware of this risk before deciding to participate in the H-2B program.
Is the H-2B program harmful to U.S. workers?
No. Employers can obtain permission to hire foreign workers only after demonstrating, to the government’s satisfaction, that insufficient numbers of U.S. workers are available for the job. H-2B employers are also legally obligated to give preference to U.S. workers — they must offer employment to any qualified U.S. worker interested in the job, and cannot lay-off U.S. workers while employing H-2B workers. Contrary to popular belief, hiring foreign workers through the H-2B program is neither cheap nor easy. The H-2B program is often a last resort for employers that cannot locate enough legal U.S. workers to sustain their businesses.
Am I required to hire U.S. job applicants?
Yes. Federal law requires you to offer employment to all qualified U.S. job applicants willing and able to do the job. You must accept applicants from all sources, including State Workforce Agency (SWA) referrals. This obligation continues until 21 days prior to your certified start date.
How much do I pay H-2B workers?
The U.S. Department of Labor issues a Prevailing Wage Determination (“PWD”) based on the counties/localities in your application and the nature of job duties performed. During the certified contract period, you are required to pay the prevailing wage rate to all workers performing H-2B job duties (U.S. and foreign). Unless you qualify for an exemption under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), H-2B workers are also eligible for overtime pay.
Where are H-2B workers permitted to work?
Your H-2B workers can perform work at any job site within the geographic areas disclosed in your labor certification. For most employers, this is a primary job site (your place of business) as well as numerous other job sites in surrounding counties.
Additionally, H-2B regulations limit employers to one “area of intended employment.” Although the regulations do not provide a clear definition, employers are generally limited to work locations within their Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) and any work locations within normal commuting distance. If you have operations in more than one area of intended employment, you will need to file multiple applications. Please consult with másH2B to determine if multiple applications are appropriate.
How long can H-2B workers stay in the U.S.?
You may employ H-2B workers for up to nine consecutive months. Longer employment periods are not considered temporary and thus do not qualify for the H-2B program. Workers may transfer between H-2B employers for up to three years, after which they must depart the U.S. for at least three months before becoming eligible for a new visa. There is no limit to the number of years that you or your workers can participate in the program.
How many hours per week can H-2B workers work?
Your H-2B employment offer must reflect a work schedule of at least 35 hours per week. Employers can require additional hours. Keep in mind, however, that H-2B regulations require you to offer workers at least three-fourths of the H-2B contract hours in each 12-week period (or 6-week period for contracts lasting less than 120 days). A “three-fourths guarantee” shortfall means that you must pay workers the difference. Therefore, you should be accurate in your application and avoid overstating your labor need.
Senior Supervising Case Manager
Amanda May Moore
Senior Supervising Case Manager
Senior Case Manager
Senior Case Manager