J-1 Visa & H-2B Visa: What’s the Difference?
By Rachel Neubauer, Cultural Outreach Intern
Here at Work and Travel, we receive numerous questions about the difference between a J-1 visa and H-2B visa. Let’s face it, a quick Google search brings up loads of websites providing literature on the two, and most of the break downs can be confusing. So we are offering a helping hand to differentiate between these two visas.
We hope this information is a start to guiding employers who are interested in bringing on international workers. We also hope it serves to empower business owners so they have a greater understanding of the process.
Here’s the breakdown:
J-1 Visas are designed to allow international visitors the opportunity to travel and work within the United States for educational purposes, in addition to gaining cultural experiences.
- Department: All J-1 visas are regulated under the Department of State (DOS).
- Documents: DS – 2019 Form, the certificate of eligibility for Exchange Visitor States, must be provided to participants by designated sponsors before they apply for the J-1 Visa.
- Database: Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) – Department of Homeland Security’s web-based system tracks and monitors participants’ information. This information is accessed within the DOS website.
H-2B Visas are distributed to international workers, from select countries, who intend to fill non-agricultural jobs for United States employers in need of work.
- Department: All H-2B visas are distributed and regulated under the Department of Labor (DOL) to job applicants filling seasonal, peak season and/or one-time occurrence positions.
- Documents: An I-129 Form must be filed through an appointed attorney before the employer can search for job applicants outside of the US.
- Database: Once approved, the employer can then file for an H-2B petition, and list job openings through the Department of Labor’s website – iCERT.
And there you have it: the meaty information regarding J-1 and H-2B visas! For more information on the difference between J-1 and H-2B visas, you can go to the J-1 Visa website.
We have also condensed this information into this comparison chart (or download the PDF) to help streamline the hiring and application process.
|J-1 Visa||H-2B Visa|
|Federal Department||Department of State||Department of Labor|
|Applicants||Accepted participants in approved programs
*excluding Canada and Bermuda who do not require a visa to enter
|Workers from select countries – 58 total|
|Purpose||Educational and cultural experience for international candidates||Fill non-agricultural jobs in peak, seasonal or one time need|
|Main Point of Contact||Designated sponsors||Assigned attorney|
|Type of Work||Varies according to program||Non-agricultural work|
|Fees||Program, SEVIS, Visa||Visa, I-129 filing fee (paid by employer), Attorney, Recruitment, Processing, Application, Transportation|
|Period of Stay||Range from 4 months to several years.||1 year, up to 3 years max|
|Visa Capacity Per Year||109,000||66,000|
|Sources:||Common Questions for Participants (State Dept)||H-2B Temporary Labor Certification Process|
Since 1985, CCI Greenheart has created global leaders by facilitating cultural exchange and service learning opportunities for international students and professionals coming to the United States. Visit Work and Travel J-1 Visa Regulations to find out how our diverse programs foster diplomacy and spark intercultural understanding between people of all nations.