1. Identify the Need for H-2B Workers
- Timeline: Variable
- This step is employer-specific and depends on their individual business needs.
2. Obtain a Temporary Labor Certification from the Department of Labor (DOL)
- Timeline: 60-75 days before the start date of work
- This includes time for Job Order Submission (15 days), Prevailing Wage Determination (approximately 4-6 weeks), Recruitment (varies, but typically a few weeks), and Filing ETA Form 9142B.
3. Submit the H-2B Petition to USCIS
- Timeline: As soon as DOL approval is received, at least 45 days before the start date of work
- This should be done promptly once the Labor Certification is approved.
4. USCIS Processes the Petition
- Regular Processing Timeline: Approximately 2-3 months
- Premium Processing Timeline: 15 calendar days
- The regular processing time can vary depending on USCIS’s current workload and staffing.
5. Worker Applies for the H-2B Visa at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate
- Timeline: Varies; typically 2-8 weeks
- This includes time for completing the DS-160 form, paying the visa fee, scheduling an interview (which can vary greatly depending on the specific embassy or consulate), and attending the interview.
6. Visa Adjudication by the U.S. Embassy or Consulate
- Timeline: Typically 1-2 weeks
- After the interview, the consulate usually takes about one to two weeks to process the visa, though this can be longer in some cases depending on administrative processing requirements.
7. Worker Travels to the U.S. and Begins Employment
- Timeline: According to the dates specified on the H-2B Petition
- The worker should plan their travel so that they arrive and start work in the U.S. according to the employment start date mentioned in the petition.
8. Extension of Stay (If Necessary)
- Timeline: At least 45 days before the expiration of H-2B status
- To avoid any gaps in employment authorization, this process should be initiated well before the current H-2B status expires.
The H-2B visa process is subject to various factors that can influence these timelines, such as changes in government processing times, seasonal fluctuations in application volumes, and individual circumstances of the worker or the employer. While the above timelines offer a general guideline, it's important for both employers and workers to stay informed of any changes in processing times and plan accordingly.
For those seeking to navigate this process - LaborMex works with the best attorneys in the industry to provide valuable assistance, ensuring a smooth and timely journey through each step of the H-2B visa process.