How to get H-2B Visas in California
(8 C.F.R. § Sec. 214.2(h))

H-2B visas allow California companies to sponsor foreigners to work for them in the U.S. for one (1) year. H-2B visas may be granted to non-agricultural laborers, skilled or unskilled. 

The three central requirements for H-2B visa-holders are:

  1. They have a job offer,
  2. They plan to leave the U.S. once the job ends, and
  3. There is a shortage of U.S. workers to do that job.

Foreigners on an H-2B visa may not adjust status to become a legal permanent resident.

In this article our Los Angeles "H-2B Visa" lawyers discuss temporary work visas in California. Click on a question to jump to the answer.

Shutterstock 510979168
Non-agricultural foreign laborers may be able to work in the U.S. on a temporary basis for one to three years while on an H-2B visa.

1. Am I eligible for an H-2B visa in Los Angeles, California?

A foreigner may qualify for an H-2B visa if he/she meets the following seven conditions:

  1. A U.S. employer has offered the foreigner a position;
  2. The foreigner has the requisite experience and skills for the job;
  3. The foreigner intends to leave the U.S. by the visa's expiration date;
  4. The employer's need is seasonal, intermittent, one-time, or peak load;
  5. The position is non-agricultural;
  6. No qualified and willing U.S. citizens are available for the position; and
  7. The position lasts less than one (1) year.

Common California H-2B visa jobs are construction workers, nannies, and home attendants for ailing patients. 

H-2B visas versus H-1B visas

H-1B visas may last from three (3) to six (6) years, while H-2B visas last for only one (1) to possibly three (3) years.

Whereas H-2B visa-holders may be unskilled, H-1B visas require that foreigners have at least an undergraduate degree.

Finally, H-1B visas can potentially lead to legal permanent residency. H-2B visas may not.

2. What is the application process for an H-2B visa?

Visa 20application

In California, the employer submits an application for a temporary labor certification from the Employment Development Department (EDD). The EDD passes the case to the the Department of Labor. Assuming the employer gets the labor certification, the employer then submits an I-129 Form with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

If the foreign worker is lawfully on U.S. soil when the I-129 Form gets approved, he/she instantly receives H-2B visa status and may begin work. If the foreign worker is still overseas, he/she will receive further instructions for securing the H-2B visa. The process may require going to the local U.S. embassy to give an interview and fingerprints (biometrics).

3. How long does an H-2B visa last?

H-2B visas are initially good for one (1) year. Then if the U.S. employer can demonstrate that they need the foreigner for more time, the duration of the visa may be increased by year-long increments. H-2B visa last no longer than three (3) years.

4. What is the time frame for getting an H-2B visa?

It usually takes between two (2) and six (6) months to get an H-2B visa.

5. What is the cost for an H-2B visa?

$190 is the H-2B visa fee.

Visa 20application 20approved

6. Can families accompany H-2B visa-holders to Los Angeles, California?

An H-2B visa holder's spouse and/or unwed children under age 21 can accompany the visa-holder to the U.S. But they may not work in the U.S. unless they get their own employment visas.

7. Can I become a legal permanent resident while on an H-2B visa?

No. H-2B visas are non-immigrant visas. They are not a bridge to green card status.

8. What happens if I leave or lose my job while on an H-1B visa?

H-2B visa-holders who quit or lose their job have to leave the U.S.

9. Do I have to stay in the U.S. on an H-1B visa?

H-2B visa-holders usually may leave and come back to the U.S. before the visa expires. However, non-citizens regaining entry into the U.S. is never a given...

If H-2B visa-holders leave the U.S., they should be prepared to show all of their documents and passport to Customs and Borders Protection upon reentry.

Call us optimized
Call our skilled California immigration attorneys at (855) LAWFIRM for a FREE consultation.

Call a California immigration attorney...

Seeking a temporary work visa in California? Contact our Los Angeles immigration attorneys at (855) LAWFIRM for a FREE phone consultation. We will do our best to secure your legal entry into the U.S. as quickly as possible.

Go to our California visa main page.

For foreigners seeking temporary work in Nevada, see our article on H-2B visa lawyers in Nevada.

Free attorney consultations...

The attorneys at Shouse Law Group bring more than 100 years collective experience fighting for individuals. We're ready to fight for you. Call us 24 hours a day, 365 days a year at 855-LAW-FIRM for a free case evaluation.

Regain peace of mind...

Shouse Law Defense Group has multiple locations throughout California. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Office Locations

Shouse Law Group has multiple locations all across California, Nevada, and Colorado. Click Office Locations to find out which office is right for you.

Call us 24/7 (855) 396-0370