Though the pandemic hit the hospitality sector hard, a key element of the industry's return likely will be employee immigration. Top hotel chains routinely bring foreign workers to the U.S. for training and employment opportunities. An employer's success in recruiting foreign employees largely depends on their understanding of the benefits and limitations of foreign worker visas.
To help make sense of the requirements, this two-part blog series will discuss what hotel employers need to know about two widely used visas in the hospitality sector—H-2B and J-1. In this post, we'll cover the temporary worker visa, H-2B, and in part 2, we'll discuss the J-1 visa used for cultural exchange.
H-2B Visa Benefits
The H-2B visa lets employers hire foreign workers to perform temporary nonagricultural work in the U.S. The benefits of the H-2B visa program are far-reaching. Visa holders may:
- Enter the U.S. for temporary work and enjoy all employee benefits;
- Bring their dependents with them to live in the U.S.;
- Travel freely nationally and internationally once the visa is approved; and
- Change jobs with a clear new job offer.
Despite the benefits, the H-2B visa comes with a number of limitations that employers must navigate.
Limitation #1: Numerical Cap
The United States limits the number of available H-2B visas to 66,000 per fiscal year. Unused H-2B visas from one year do not carry over into the next.
Limitation #2: Eligible Countries
Only workers from certain countries are eligible for the H-2B visa program for national security reasons. The list of available visas for eligible countries fluctuates from year to year.
Limitation #3: Application Process
Foreign workers cannot file for an H-2B visa on their own. U.S. employers have to petition for the visa on the workers' behalf. To do this, the employer first must obtain a temporary labor certificate certifying that there are no qualified, able, or willing U.S. workers available for the job. Once the employer secures this certificate, then they may begin the visa application process itself.
Limitation #4: Duration of Stay
The U.S. issues H-2B visas for a one-year period. The visa may be extended for up to two additional years. However, after seeking a 2nd extension, the foreign worker must remain outside the U.S. for at least three uninterrupted months before applying for re-admission under the program.
Get Professional Help
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