The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) issues different temporary work visas based on the applicant’s eligibility, skills, education, and goals. Many people tend to confuse between H1B and H-2B visas, but they are not the same.
In this article, you will discover the difference between H-1B and H-2B visas.
H-1B and H-2B Visa – Explaining the H-1B Specialty Occupation Visa
The H-1B visa is a nonimmigrant classification applied to foreign individuals seeking to enter the United States to perform:
- Services in a specialty occupation (professions requiring a university degree or its equivalent in training and experience)
- Services of exceptional merit and ability relating to a Department of Defense (DOD) cooperative research and development project, or
- Services as a fashion model of distinguished merit or ability
The H-1B category is divided into three distinct subcategories – the H-1B Specialty Occupations visa, the H-1B2 DOD Researcher and Development Project Worker visa, and the H-1B3 Fashion Model visa.
A US employer must apply on behalf of a prospective worker by filing Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker). When applying with USCIS, employers must also submit Form ETA-9035/9035E, Labor Condition Application (LCA) certified by the US Department of Labor (DOL).
Please note that petitioners of prospective H-1B2 visa holders are not required to submit a DOL certification. With few exceptions, the total period of stay cannot go beyond six years (including the extensions).
The H-1B nonimmigrant classification has an annual numerical limit (cap) of 65,000 visas per fiscal year. USCIS has exemptions for specific H-1B applications. Consult with an expert immigration attorney to determine whether an exemption applies to your case.
H-1B Visa vs. H-2B Visa – Explaining the H-2B Temporary Agricultural Visa
The H-2A visa program helps US farmers and agriculture firms bring foreign workers to fill temporary or seasonal employment gaps. A US employer, an authorized agent, or an association of US agricultural producers must apply on a prospective worker’s behalf.
The first step is to file Form I-129 (Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker) and submit a valid temporary labor certification issued by the US Department of Labor (DOL). To qualify for the H-2A program, US petitioners must:
- Present a job offer of temporary or seasonal nature
- Demonstrate that not sufficient US workers are able, willing, qualified, and available to fill the temporary or seasonal employment gap
- Demonstrate that the employment of H-2A workers will not negatively impact the wages and working conditions of similarly employed US workers
USCIS may approve only H-2A petitions of nationals of eligible countries. Every year, the Secretary of Homeland Security designates the annual list of countries eligible to participate in the H-2A program.
The list of H-2A eligible countries is published in a Federal Register notice. After publication, the list is valid for one year (counting from the publication date). The H-2A visa program has no annual numerical limit (cap) of visas issued per year.