Do you want to work legally in the United States and earn money for you and your family? The H-2 visa program makes this possible. Applicants can work temporary jobs in agriculture, construction, forestry, and many other industries. The H-2A visa is for temporary agricultural jobs, while the H-2B visa is for temporary non-agricultural jobs.
General Information on the H-2 Visa Program
Under the H-2 visa program, applicants can legally work temporarily in the United States in agriculture, construction, forestry, landscaping, and many other types of industries. The H-2A visa is for temporary agricultural work, and the H-2B visa is for temporary non-agricultural work. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the Consular Section continues to update our procedures to ensure the safety and health of applicants and Embassy staff.
Application Instructions for H-2 Visa Applicants
Step 1. Be identified by a U.S. company as the beneficiary of an approved H-2 petition.
In order to apply for an H-2A or H-2B visa, you must be the beneficiary of an approved petition filed by a U.S. employer. The job offer should include a description of the job to be performed, the wages, and the name and location of the employer. If you are offered a job and have doubts about its validity, you can verify it with us by sending an email to GuatemalaH2@state.gov. Please pay attention to these recommendations to avoid becoming the victim of a scam.
Step 2. Review your employment contract and confirm that the request is valid.
Review the details of your job offer to see what kind of job you were offered and how much you will be paid. You should receive a written employment contract in a language that you understand. The contract should contain detailed information about wages, working hours, benefits (including transportation, housing, and meals or cooking facilities), and any deductions from your paycheck. Remember that you are entitled to receive a fair wage. A job offer without such details can be a sign of fraud. If in doubt, you can verify the legitimacy of the petition by sending an email to GuatemalaH2@state.gov.
Step 3. Apply for your H-2 visa with the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala.
In order to apply for a visa, your employer (or their agent) will need to create an appointment request with the Embassy.
First, if the group organizer does not already have a user profile on www.ustraveldocs.com, they must create such a profile by clicking this link and selecting “New User.” Complete the required information fields and create a password. The group organizer also needs to provide a copy of their ID card and proof that they are acting on the U.S. employer’s behalf; this material should be emailed to GuatemalaH2@state.gov.
Second, the group organizer should create a Group Scheduling Request following the guidance on this webpage. Once the Embassy has approved the Group Scheduling Request, the group organizer will receive a confirmation email with guidance on how to confirm the appointments.
As part of confirming the group appointments, the group organizer will need to enter the confirmation number of each applicant’s DS-160 application form, as well as the number of a valid application fee receipt. Further details are available on this webpage.
Please note that if the appointments are not confirmed by 8:00 p.m. the day before they are scheduled, it will unfortunately not be possible for the applications to be submitted. In such a case, the group organizer will need to submit a new Group Scheduling Request.
Step 4. Submit your documents to the Consular Section.
On the day of the confirmed appointment, the group organizer should go to the Embassy and drop off the following documents with the Consular Section greeters:
- Copy of the approved petition (I-797), and, if you have ever stayed beyond the expiration of your visa, provide copies of all approved or pending extensions of stay (I-129).
- DS-160 confirmation page with the barcode.
- Guatemalan passport with a minimum of six (6) months validity. Previously used passports or visas.
- 2″ x 2″ (5 cm x 5 cm) color photograph on a white background.
- Signed employer/employee contract: you should submit a written work contract in a language you understand. The contract must contain detailed information about the wages, work duration, hours, benefits (including transportation, housing and meals or cooking facilities), and any deductions from your paycheck. A job offer without these kinds of details may be a sign of fraud. (See section below on fraud prevention).
Step 5. If required, attend your interview at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City.
The Consular Section will contact you via your group organizer (or the Ministry of Labor) to schedule you for an interview, if one is required. It is important to tell the truth during your interview. You should mention any previous arrests, regardless of the outcome, the length of previous stays in the United States, and any attempts you made to cross the U.S. border without a visa. These activities do not necessarily disqualify you from the H-2 visa program. However, concealing prior unlawful presence in the United States, crossing attempts, or arrests will likely result in a visa denial and may result in a permanent visa ineligibility.
Step 6. Collect your passport
If your visa is approved, the Embassy will return your passport via Cargo Expreso (or the Ministry of Labor, if applicable). You can arrange your travel to the United States as an H-2 worker.
Information for Petitioners (U.S. Employers)
H-2 visas are petition-based visas, meaning that a U.S. employer must obtain a temporary labor certification from the U.S. Department of Labor and receive a Notice of Approval (I-797) of the petition from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) before they can schedule visa appointments for their workers with the Department of State.
Step 1. Petitioner submits temporary labor certification application to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL).
The petitioner must apply for and receive a temporary labor certification for H-2A or H-2B workers from DOL. For further information regarding the temporary labor certification application process, please refer to the Foreign Labor Certification, Department of Labor Web page.
Step 2. Petitioner submits form I-129 to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).
After receiving a temporary labor certification from DOL, the petitioner must file Form I-129, Petition for Nonimmigrant Worker with USCIS. For further information regarding the USCIS petition process, please refer to the USCIS webpages for H-2A workers and H-2B workers .
Step 3. Workers apply for a visa with the U.S. Department of State (DOS) at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Once the petitioner has received the Notice of Approval (I-797B) from USCIS stating that the petition was approved, an appointment for a visa interview for the workers at a U.S. Embassy or Consulate may be scheduled. In Guatemala, all H-2 applications are adjudicated at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City. In general, petitioners and/or their agents schedule group appointments for their workers, following the instructions on this webpage. Applicants will need to fill out a DS-160 visa application form, pay a $190 USD payment, and possess a valid passport.
Step 4. Workers receive their visas and seek admission to the United States with Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at a U.S. port of entry.
Important Note on Exit Requirements: Admit Until Date (AUD)
H-2A visa holders are only permitted to stay in the United States for a period of time determined by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP). Upon entering the United States on an H-2 visa, CBP issues each H-2 worker an electronic I-94 with an Admit Until Date (AUD). A worker must generally exit the United States before the AUD expires. For more information, please see CBP’s Arrival/Departure Forms: I-94 and I-94W page.
Remember that when workers remain in the United States past their AUD date with no valid extension, they are considered out of status. For applicants, staying in the United States beyond the authorized time could negatively affect future visa applications. Employers should ensure that workers comply strictly with the AUD dates assigned. If you have any questions on when an employee should return to Guatemala to comply with their AUD date, please contact us at: GuatemalaFPM@state.gov.
Know Your Rights/Fraud Prevention
H-2A and H-2B temporary workers have the same rights as every other worker in the United States. You should be paid on time, receive extra pay for overtime work, and receive professional and equitable treatment from your employer. H-2A temporary workers are also entitled to receive, clean and sanitary housing provided by their employer. On the day of your visa interview, you will receive a pamphlet with a phone number to call for free in case you feel you are mistreated. Report mistreatment right away — reporting is 100% confidential, and operators speak Spanish.
How to verify that your job offer is legitimate
If you have doubts about whether your job offer is legitimate, please contact +502-2326-4600 or GuatemalaH2@state.gov. Our staff speak Spanish, and all calls are confidential.
Signs that your job offer may not be legitimate:
- The recruiter constantly changes the date of the appointment at the Consulate or date of departure to the United States.
- The recruiter cannot clearly explain the costs of the application.
- The recruiter asks for additional fees that “guarantee” the issuance of the visa or an interview with a specific official at the U.S. Embassy.
- The recruiter does not provide details about the job (name of the company, city and state of the job site, list of job responsibilities, salary information, or length of contract).
- To maintain a visa process that is fair and equitable to all applicants, please note the following: No one must charge any fee to an applicant for inclusion in a work opportunity; that is illegal in the United States. If someone tries to charge you money as a condition for an H-2 employment opportunity, please contact the Fraud Prevention Unit hotline immediately at +502-2326-4600 or via WhatsApp at +502-3018-3710.
- No fee will guarantee a specific appointment date, time, or visa decision.
- Be truthful during the interview; do not accept advice to mislead the consular officer. Misleading or lying could result in a permanent ineligibility for a visa under U.S. immigration law.
- Only persons applying for visas are allowed into the Embassy.
H-2A & H-2B WORKERS ARE PROTECTED BY THE WILBERFORCE ACT
Don’t be afraid to report any fraudulent activity that affects you personally or that you may witness occurring to someone else. You can help prevent yourself, your family, or your friends from becoming victims of fraud by contacting our Fraud Prevention Unit at +502-2326-4600 or GuatemalaH2@state.gov. Our staff speaks Spanish, and all calls are confidential.
For more information on H-2 workers’ rights in the United States, please read the pamphlets on Wilberforce protections linked here:
You may also find this information by visiting: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/us-visas/visa-information-resources/temporary-workers.html.
Remember that every H-2A and H-2B worker has the right to:
- Be paid fairly, even if you are paid at a piece rate.
- Be free from discrimination.
- Be free from sexual harassment and sexual exploitation.
- Have a healthy and safe workplace.
- Request help from union, immigrant, and labor rights groups.
- Leave an abusive employment situation.
- Never have to pay fees to a labor recruiter.
- Receive a written job offer in a language you understand. It must contain detailed information about the wages, work duration, hours, benefits (including transportation, housing and meals or cooking facilities), and any deductions from your paycheck.
Visit these websites for more information about:
- Your rights to be paid fairly, including how to file a wage complaint. Find information on how to file a complaint with the Department of Labor: How to File a Complaint.
- Your right to join with other workers to improve your pay or working conditions, including how to file a charge: nlrb.gov.
- Your workplace safety rights, or if you think your job is unsafe and you want to request an inspection: osha.gov.
- How to get unpaid wages from your employer: dol.gov/wow.
- Your right not to face discrimination because of your citizenship status and to file a discrimination complaint: justice.gov/crt/filing-charge.
- Equality, and your rights to be free from discrimination at work because of your race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information, and to file a discrimination charge: eeoc.gov.
- Prevent Human trafficking: state.gov/j/tip.
- Your rights, obligations, and exemptions to health insurance: healthcare.gov (English) and ayudalocal.cuidadodesalud.gov (Spanish).
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I apply for an H-2 visa? H-2 visa applications are only received and processed at the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City.
What is the processing time for an H-2 worker to obtain a nonimmigrant visa? For cases that do not require an interview, the Embassy generally processes the applications the same day they are received. If an interview is necessary, we will contact the group organizer to offer the next-available interview date; we strive to keep the wait time below two weeks. The Embassy returns approved visas via Cargo Expreso, which generally offers next-day delivery service.
Is it faster for an H-2 worker to obtain a H-2 visa if s/he has worked in the United States in prior years? Yes. Under current processing times, a returning worker may receive their visa sooner if they are eligible for a waiver of the interview requirement.
Are employers allowed to visit the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City? Due to COVID-19 restrictions, it is not possible to visit the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City. However, an employer may email us at GuatemalaH2@state.gov for specific inquiries.
What does the worker need to prove s/he will depart the United States when their contract is complete? Consular officers must consider a range of factors to determine if the applicant qualifies for visa issuance under U.S. immigration law. The applicant must demonstrate to the consular officer that s/he will use the visa for its intended purpose and will return to their country of residence after the conclusion of a temporary visit to the United States.
If a worker is not issued an H-2 visa, is it possible for the employer to find out why s/he was denied? Under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), Section 222(f), the records of the U.S. Department of State relating to visa decisions are confidential. Therefore, information may not be provided to third parties about a particular visa applicant. Certain information may be provided to people acting on behalf of and with the permission of the applicant. These people may include petitioners, attorneys, or members of Congress.
What happens if our worker misses his/her interview due to an unforeseeable event, such as a car accident or some other valid reason? An applicant who misses an appointment will need to reschedule his/her appointment through their group organizer. Applicants who anticipate being unable to attend a scheduled appointment are encouraged to let their recruiter know in order to coordinate a new appointment time.
Why was I refused under INA 221(g)? What is “administrative processing”? If an applicant is refused 221(g), this means the consular officer did not have all the information or documents needed in order to process the application to conclusion. When administrative processing is required, the consular officer will inform the applicant at the end of the interview. The duration of the administrative processing will vary based on the individual circumstances of each case.