The H2B worker visa program allows foreign nationals to travel to the United States and work in a specific sector on a temporary, seasonal basis. The visa provides a great opportunity for especially young people to integrate into an American community somewhere in the U.S and be exposed to working in the country. For example, ski instructors from around the world can apply for an H2B visa and have an employer sponsor them to work at a ski resort for a winter season.

While finding a suitable employer who can match the needs of their organization with the skillset of the company is not the most difficult part of the process, finding an apartment or finding a place to lease for a temporary stay in the U.S. might be. In this blog, we will go over some recommendations and tips for finding a safe and affordable place to live in the U.S. as the process can be confusing to outsiders who have never dealt with this specific housing market before.

Consular Processing

Before you go on to lease an apartment in the U.S., the first tip in this process is to figure out what exactly you will need for your consular interview where you will receive your H2B visa. Contact the nearest consulate or embassy and be sure to ask what the level of proof or evidence is needed, and if you specifically need receipt of a payment for housing in the U.S. or not. Consulates in different countries will differ in how they handle visa applications, so be sure to understand that just because one consular office demands a signed lease for an apartment/housing in the U.S., others might not.

Consider a Sub-Leasing Agreement

One of the difficulties with finding a suitable place to live in the U.S. for a temporary period is that most leases, and apartment leasing offices in the U.S. offer 1-year lease contracts. This means that if you sign up for an apartment, pass the background check, and are tempted to sign a lease for an apartment, you should know that if you decide to leave within 6 months, you will have to pay a break-your-lease fee which could be several thousand dollars. Avoid leasing agencies that have strict policies like this, as it could be a financially bad decision when you are trying to earn and save money through your H2B experience.

Alternatively, another option for foreign nationals is to find a lease holder in the U.S. who is looking for a roommate or has an open bedroom in their house/apartment. This option saves foreign nationals a lot of hassle, especially when it comes to needing to furnish an apartment they are only going to be living in for 6 months. In general, finding a sub-lease in the U.S. can be a great option for a temporary living situation because you are not bound to a strict contract, you wont have to pay an astronomical security deposit fee, and it will in general be less paperwork than going through a rental agency.

However, things to be aware of when sub-leasing are that you should always have a Skype/formal conversation with your new roommate before moving in to make sure that the living situation will be conducive to all parties living in the unit. This means that you should have similar lifestyles, for example it would be wise to find someone to share an apartment with who also has a job, similar hobbies, and is respectful of common areas.

Joining an Online Group

In order to make this a smooth process, H2B visa holders, or prospective applicants should join an online marketplace or private group where people regularly post the kind of roommate, or ideal living situation they are looking for in the city they are seeking to live. Facebook hosts many of these kinds of groups, so this could be one option.

Whatever group you decide to join, always read carefully the posts that group members are displaying to make sure that it is legitimate, and that housing prices do not have hidden fees. Living in the U.S. is expensive, so ideally looking for furnished residences is a good option for temporary visa holders to avoid having to buy/sell furniture for such a short stay.

Overall, finding an ideal living situation in the U.S. for a 6 month period generally takes a fair amount of research and reaching out to people to try and make connections. If you are planning on applying for an H2B visa, or are in the middle of the process, start looking for a roommate in advance and make sure to specify your needs with a unit.