The H-2B classification allows you to hire citizens of certain named countries, with limited exceptions, to accept temporary non-agricultural employment in the United States, after you have obtained a temporary labor certification by establishing that there were no willing, able, and qualified U.S. workers available during the period of recruitment. There are only two times per year when you can apply for this classification –January 1st and July 3rd.
There is an annual numerical limitation of 66,000 for H-2B visas. Therefore, this is under a lottery system. Please note, for the past few years, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Labor (DOL) has increased the numerical limit (cap) on H-2B visas by up to 30,000 additional visas in the Spring of each year.
An H-2B petition may be valid for up to one year for seasonal, intermittent, and peakload needs, and up to three years for one-time need. However, the reality can differ. Also H-2B petitions may be extended for periods of up to one year, to a maximum of three years in H-2B status in some circumstances, but again, the reality can differ.
To be eligible for a period of H-2B status beyond the limit, your employee must remain physically present outside the United States for at least three months. Recapture of H-2B time is not available. Dependent spouses and children of H-2Bs hold H-4 status.