The Differences Between H1B & H2B

By Anjalee Khemlani - Updated February 09, 2018
US Visa

There are many visas immigrants and international students can apply for to gain access to the United States, and they are very specific in categorizing the function and capacities of the person when on U.S. soil. The H1 and H2 visas are work permits, allowing either temporary technical work opportunities or seasonal and agricultural work options.

Technical Workers Need an H-1B

The H1-B visa covers a broad range of technical occupations, government research opportunities and permission for notable fashion models to work in the U.S. The visa is valid for three years, after which renewal is possible for another three years. The visa holder may also apply for a "green card" or permanent resident card. There are three basic types of H-1B visas. The H-1B permits people with Bachelor's degrees or higher to work. The H1B2 is for government research and development work that is usually agreed upon by both governments involved. And the H1B3 is available for very well-known fashion models.

H-1B Cap and Exemptions

The cap for the H1B is 65,000 people, plus an additional 20,000 visas allotted to those who enter with a Master's degree or higher. Persons exempt from the cap are those who are employed by a higher education institution or a non-profit affiliate.

Less Skilled Labor Needs an H-2B

The H-2B visa is a temporary visa for a foreign employee in a non-agricultural field.The visa has to be requested by the employer, with specific information about the work the employee will be involved in and for how long. The employer must also show that the work being done does not compete with a U.S. worker in a similar position. This ensures that U.S. jobs are not at risk of being lost to immigrants willing to work for less.

H-2B Caps and Exemptions

The cap on H-2B visas is 66,000 per U.S. government fiscal year. In the first half of the fiscal year, only 33,000 are allowed. If by the end of the year all 66,000 are not used, the available spots do not carry over. Instead, the counter resets for the new fiscal year. Visa holders who apply for an extension of their H-2B; spouses and children of the worker (because they are given a different visa); and workers in fish roe processing are all exempt from the cap.

About the Author

Anjalee Khemlani has experience writing through internships at local magazine companies (Advantage Publishing, Inc.) and newspaper freelancing ("The Gainesville Sun"). Her how-to articles specialize in technology and electronics. She received her bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Florida in 2011.

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