What You Need to Know About Hiring H-2B Visa Workers

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) made 35,000 additional H-2B temporary non-agricultural worker visas available for the second half of the fiscal year 2022. The 23,500 set aside for returning workers who received H-2B status within the past three years have been used. However, 11,500 visas for returning or non-returning workers from Honduras, Guatemala, Haiti, and El Salvador are still available. The additional visas were to help American businesses meet their labor demands and increase the legal pathways available for workers wanting to work in the United States.

Requirements for the H-2B Visa Program

The H-2B visa program permits employers to hire foreign workers to perform temporary, non-agricultural jobs in the United States. The positions must meet the following requirements:

  • The employment needs to be for a limited time, such as intermittent or seasonal work. The timeframe for the job must be less than a year.
  • Employers must prove that they cannot find sufficient U.S. workers who are qualified, able, available, and willing to do the temporary work.
  • Employing H-2B workers must not negatively affect the working conditions or wages of U.S. workers with similar jobs.
  • Before workers can apply to the Department of Labor for an H-2B visa abroad, they must have a valid offer for a job in which there is a shortage of American workers. They must also show the intent to return to their home country once their temporary employment ends.

Applying for H-2B Workers

If a U.S. employer wants to hire H-2B workers, they must advertise and attempt to recruit U.S. workers for the open positions. If the employer fails to recruit U.S. workers, they can apply to their State Workforce Agency (SWA) for a temporary labor certification. Once completed, the case will be transferred to the DOL to be approved.

If the DOL approves the request, the employer must apply via Form ETA-9142B and pay the required fees. Employers also have the option of paying a foreign labor recruiter.

The Effect of H-2B Workers on Insurance

Many employers have had difficulty filling jobs due to current labor shortages. This difficulty has caused many employers to consider hiring H-2B workers to fill their seasonal or temporary positions.

However, those employers considering this option need to consider how this will affect their insurance. Employers that hire H-2B workers must:

  • Provide the workers with transportation to the job and back to their home country
  • Provide the workers with housing
  • Ensure a safe working environment

An employer’s existing insurance may not cover the added risk of these obligations, so they must review their insurance policies to ensure their risk profile remains low. This review includes knowing how to contact the workers’ emergency contacts and updating training materials for non-native speakers to understand. Managers must also ensure H-2B workers understand and follow safety protocols to prevent accidents.

Employers hiring H-2B workers must complete Form I-9. However, filling out Form I-9 may be complicated because of the many documents workers can present. The best way to complete Form I-9 without potentially costly mistakes is to use an electronic I-9 management tool, which guides employers through the verification process and ensures hiring personnel knows which documents are acceptable for proving work authorization.

Ensure compliance today by switching to an electronic I-9 management tool with I-9 Compliance.