What's the Difference Between an H-1B and an H-2B Visa?

For decades, the United States government has understood the importance of foreign workers as part of a growing economy. Since the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952 was enacted, temporary nonimmigrants have come to the country to perform employment under various categories. The most commonly used visas for foreign workers are the H-1B and H-2B, but while there are many similarities between the two documents, at their core, they are distinctly different. What do each of these visas allow the holder, and which one is right for you? Read on to find out.

The Purpose Behind the H-1B and H-2B Visas

The United States is only one country in a functioning world full of people with incredible talent and professional goals for their lives. But within America lies the potential for foreign skilled workers to further their careers through education and employment opportunities. 

It would be foolish for those in the US to assume they have the best of the best and enough talent to fill all of the possible openings necessary to move the country forward. The government understands all sides of the economic picture. Because of the need for foreigners to obtain more opportunities than they may have in their home countries and because of the need for more skilled workers in every industry in the US than the nation provides organically, the H-1B and H-2B visas were created.

The major difference between the two categories is the type of worker they admit into the country, but there are other things that separate the two visas, as well.

Understanding the H-1B Visa

The H-1B visa, also called a dual intent visa, is designed for skilled foreign workers in industries that require advanced education and degrees, and years of experience. Those who qualify for the jobs under the H-1B category must have a job offer from a qualified US employer. 

There are two types of H-1B employment: capped and cap-exempt. Capped H-1B visa registrations must go through a lottery system at the beginning of the year, and there are a limited number of these visas available annually. Cap-exempt petitions are those offered by approved employers such as institutions of higher learning and certain non-profit or government organizations. These are unlimited, and a person can submit their petition for a visa any time of the year.

The benefits of an H-1B visa include a minimum three-year stay in the US with the possibility of extending the visa for another three years. Immediate dependents can move overseas with the visa holder. While living in the US under this temporary visa, beneficiaries can begin the steps to apply for permanent residence through a green card.

However, there are strict requirements you must meet before you get approved for an H-1B visa, and it’s wise to work with a skilled immigration attorney, like Visa2US, before embarking on this challenging but advantageous journey.

Understanding the H-2B Visa

On the other hand, the H-2B visa is for nonimmigrants wishing to obtain work in temporary or seasonal non-agricultural industries. These visas are valid for up to one year, and beneficiaries aren’t allowed to apply for permanent residency during their stay.

Because the criteria of this visa include the designation that employment must be temporary and for a limited time (seasonal, a one-time situation, intermittent, or peak periods), the H-2B visa isn’t usually renewed, but if necessary, the holder can request one-year extensions for up to two more years. Dependents can travel with the visa holder.

Although the H-2B visa isn’t a direct path to a green card, while the beneficiary is in the US, they may find an employer willing to sponsor them for one. In those circumstances, the temporary foreign worker can begin the process of obtaining permanent residency, but this path may be a long road. 

Unskilled workers often have to wait up to ten years before a green card in their category becomes available. During that time, you may continue to live in the US if you’ve completed all your paperwork and USCIS approves your request. When you have dependents, this can get complicated. Talk to an immigration lawyer before you try to make any changes to your H-2B visa.

What’s Next?

Obtaining a visa for work in the United States is an ideal way to further your career and your life goals. But each visa category has a unique set of requirements, benefits, and drawbacks. Skilled foreign workers can apply for H-1B visas and begin their journey toward high-paying, dependable jobs in America. 

But this process is full of deadlines, rigid requirements, and other criteria you must do correctly or risk losing your chance of getting that coveted visa. Luckily, our legal professionals at Visa2US are here for you 24 hours a day, every day, to offer advice, guide your steps, and help you maximize your chances of success as you work toward your goal of employment in the United States. Contact us today to see how we can assist you and make this dream a reality.

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H-1B Visa

H-1B Visa

H-1B visa is used by businesses and organizations in the United States to employ foreign nationals with the preferred qualifications, knowledge, and expertise in a role.

I-485 Adjustment of Status

I-485 Adjustment of Status

Submit a form I-485 application to apply for lawful permanent resident status.

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

National Interest Waiver (NIW)

An applicant must either hold an advanced degree or have an exceptional ability in their field that would substantially benefit the U.S. to be qualified.