Understanding the H-2B Visa | Q & A Session with Abeer | Part 2
This is a continuation of the blog posted a couple weeks ago, which can be found HERE. If you missed part one of this series, I would highly encourage you to go back and check it out as well. This blog post picks up about half way through our conversation with Abeer regarding the H-2B Visa.
The application process for the H-2B visa can be complicated and difficult, what kind of timeframe should employers expect to complete the application process?
The answer to this question can vary quite a bit depending on whether or not a company is trying to handle this process on their own, or is working with an experienced immigration attorney. As is the case with anything involving the US government, the application process is very meticulous, time consuming, and requires tremendous attention to detail. To put a time estimate on the process, I would say that from deciding that you want to pursue this opportunity, to the point where you have your H-2B Visa worker in place would easily take 6-7 months. Several months of this time would be consumed with due diligence on the part of the company making sure that all of the required information and documentation is readily available and clearly defining the details of what type of job you are hoping to fill with the H-2B worker. Once the company has everything ready and in place, the actual application process will typically take about 2-3 months to complete. So this isn’t a quick fix to an employment crisis. Utilizing this avenue of employment requires careful planning and forethought on the part of the companies looking to pursue this option.
Is it expensive to hire employees through the H-2B Visa program?
It is not possible to give a generalized answer to that question because there are so many factors that have to be weighed when deciding whether or not something is “expensive.” If a company is looking at a situation where they are going to be in breach of their contracts due to lack of workers, that has to be factored into the equation when deciding about the overall cost of the H-2B Visa program. I can say that it’s not a cheap endeavor because there are a lot of steps involved in the process, which takes time to complete, and that does come with a price. However, at the end of the day, in my years of helping companies obtain workers through the H-2B Visa program, I’ve never had a company regret their investment in hiring workers through this program. If companies viewed the program as “too expensive,” then we certainly wouldn’t see the sustained interest and demand for companies to hire workers through this program. However, the reality is that the H-2B Visa program remains an extremely popular and competitive program year after year.
Since you mentioned the competitive nature of this process again, what are some of the important things that a company should do in order to have the best chance at successfully hiring H-2B Visa workers?
I am a firm believer that there are two very important things that companies can do to improve their chances of success. The first is time management. Remember, there are two time-frames for the H-2B Visa, the first is from October to March and the second is from April to September. The key to getting the workers that you need, during the time-frame that you need is to plan ahead. This process is not something that can be successfully navigated at the last minute. It requires very careful planning and preparation to make sure that the entire application process is completed on time to ensure that you can access the workers you need during the time-frame when they are needed. This means that companies need to make sure they provide their attorney with payroll data, tax information, profit and loss statements, and any other pertinent financial information, along with specific job descriptions and expectations well in advance of the actual need for the employees. This leads to the second important thing that a company should do to maximize their chances of success, companies need to maintain accurate and detailed records. This includes financial records, employment records, contractual agreements, and historic contract executions to help facilitate clear documentation of their need for H-2B Visa workers. Accurate record keeping, particularly in the area of employment and contractual obligations, is essential to clearly establishing your company’s need for temporary workers. One final thought when considering the H-2B visa is don’t get greedy. I’ve seen employers request more workers than their workload demand justified only to find that their request was denied because of their attempted overreach. Only request the amount of H-2B Visa workers you can justify with your employment records and documented workload projections.
Once a company is able to secure H-2B workers, how long are they allowed to stay in the United States and work?
The short answer to that question is that the visa will be approved for the amount of time requested by the company. If the company requests an H-2B visa for a temporary worker to assist with a project that will last for 3 months, then that is the amount of time that will be approved for that particular H-2B visa worker. Generally speaking, the typical maximum amount of time that will be approved is six months, since the H-2B visa allocation is divided into the two halves of the fiscal year. However, each H-2B visa worker’s situation can be considered on a case by case basis and there are ways for the workers to get extensions approved, which would enable them to be authorized to remain working in the US for a longer period of time. Every case is different and those options would have to be explored and considered based on the specific details for each situation.
One more thing that I want to add to this discussion to conclude is that the purpose for the H-2B visa is not to replace the American worker. The emphasis for this program is to help companies fill employment gaps when American workers are not available. This is why companies are required to demonstrate their local recruitment efforts as a part of the application process for the H-2B visa. When American workers are available and willing to fill the employment demands for US companies, this is the priority. However, when those local recruitment efforts fail to produce American workers to meet the employment demand for a company, the H-2B Visa creates an ideal opportunity to meet this need with foreign workers.
That concludes our initial overview of the H-2B Visa program. There’s a lot more to learn about this great program as we’ve only just scratched the surface with information about how this program could benefit businesses throughout the United States. Stay tuned to our website for more upcoming articles about the H-2B Visa. We are planning to provide a thorough description of the entire process and important factors to consider when deciding if this program is right for your employment needs.
If you’d like to learn more about the H-2B visa right now, please visit our dedicated H-2B Visa website (h2bvisa.us) and schedule a free 30 minute consultation with Abeer to discuss any questions you may have about the H-2B Visa.
PLEASE NOTE: This blog is not intended as specific legal advice and should not be taken as legal advice for any particular situation as every situation is unique and requires dedicated legal counsel to properly address. However, the information in this blog will provide knowledge and insights that will benefit all who have an interest in learning more about immigration law.
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