The H2B Visa nonimmigrant status program allows employers to hire foreign professionals to come to the United States legally to do contract labor or nonagriculture services on a seasonal, or peak load basis, and then return home. This visa is different from a green card, as green cards are available to people who have three to seven years of residence in the United States. The green card process takes about two years, while the visa typically takes about three to six months. This visa program has been around since 1990 and is the second largest immigration program in the United States. Many international students and other immigrants come to the United States through the H-1B Visa program.
To apply for the H-2B Visa, an individual must first apply online by going to the Department of State website and registering as an applicant. A list of names and numbers of eligible employers will be available, along with forms that need to be filled out and a fee. The fee is usually waived by the employer when an applicant applies for the temporary work visa. It may take several weeks for the visa interview and paperwork to be completed and approved, so applicants should keep track of when they email or call their local embassy. Some employers require additional documentation from the worker, such as a checking account statement or a second set of fingerprints.
Temporary visas are good only for a specific period of time. An individual can work in the United States under this category for a total period not exceeding one year. However, this does not mean that a person cannot stay in the United States after completing their employment contract because the worker may then become eligible for an immigrant visa if he or she has been residing in the United States for a longer period of time. The temporary work visa program is separate from the green card program and those who apply for either of these programs must first apply for the visa. The United States government only accepts requests for the H2B visa through the Bureau of Immigration Services.