United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) provides a visa for immigrant workers who are employed in seasonal, non-agricultural work in the United States. This visa is known as the H2-B visa, and is awarded to nationals of specific countries that have been designated by the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. Some of those countries include Argentina, Croatia, South Korea and Ukraine.
Immigrant employees who receive an H2-B visa are permitted to live and work in the U.S. for up to three years. After that period the applicant can extend their stay with permission for increments of one year each. Those individuals holding an H2-B visa can request permission for their spouse and unmarried children under the age of 21 to come to the U.S. and carry an H-4 non-immigrant visa. However, those family members are not eligible to work under an H-4 visa.
The number of H2-B visas provided per fiscal year is capped at 66,000, with 33,000 allotted for employment between October to March (the first half of the fiscal year), and 33,000 for employment between April and September (the second half of the fiscal year). Any visas that are not assigned to an individual from the first half of the year will be made available to employers who want to hire H2-B workers during the second half of the fiscal year. However, there is no “carry over” from year to year.
Once the cap for the fiscal year is reached, no employer can submit their H2-B visa late for processing. Those employees already carrying H2-B visas are allowed to petition to extend their stay in the U.S., as well as petition to change the terms of their employment, and these requests do not count against the mandated cap.