The H-2B visa is often overlooked in the Filipino community. The H-2B visa is a visa for U.S. employers that are trying to fill a "temporary" employment need. It can be used by parents trying to bring a qualified child care attendant from home to care for a newborn or by concert promoters trying to bring in young performers and/or groups that haven't been around long enough-unlike Mark Mejia (and others)- to have developed an international presence.
The theory behind the H-2B is that the worker is coming to the United States to perform temporary services brought about by a recurring or unexpected change in an employer's circumstances. And, after performing services of a temporary nature, the employee will return home. You might think of the H-2B as a tourist visa that allows you to work.
The H-2B is the ugly sister of the H-1B. Unlike the sexier H-1B visa, the H-2B visa holder can either be skilled or unskilled. It is also rather unique in that the U.S. employer must first obtain a labor certification from the United States Department of Labor that: unemployed but qualified U.S. workers are not available for the position at issue and that the potential employment will not negatively affect the working conditions of similar U.S. workers.
As you know, labor certifications (whether traditional or RIR) take a significant amount of time to complete. But H-2B labor certifications, while time consuming, are subject to different processing guidelines.
While labor certifications under the present regulatory structure may take up to 2 ½ years to complete, H-2B labor certifications are processed differently. Nevertheless, if seeking an H-2B employee, the U.S. employer should file the necessary documents at least 120 days in advance of the anticipated date.
Like the H-1B, the H-2B visa is subject to a numerical cap (66,000) and is processed on the fiscal calendar. On about March 9, 2004, H-2B visas for fiscal year 2004 were used up. Thus, any visa applications filed on or after that date will be taken from the FY2005 visa numbers.
Whether you are expecting parents wondering how you are going to take off work to care for a newborn (without bringing someone here from home) or a concert promoter concerned with the international recognition of one of your childhood stars, consider the H-2B. It is a viable and often overlooked alternative and may satisfy your immediate and temporary needs.