H-2B Work Visa Cap Relief
Late last month, Congressional negotiators reached a bipartisan agreement on a bill to fund the federal government through September 30, 2017. As part of that agreement, the legislative text contains much needed H-2B cap relief.
Since the congressionally mandated cap of 66,000 visas was reached extremely early this year, many of our members faced the threat of not having H-2B workers to supplement their full time, domestic staff, thus preventing properties from operating at full capacity during the peak season. The language included in the spending package allows the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor, the authority to raise the H-2B cap when it is determined that there is an economic need. This provision could significantly increase the total number of H-2B visas available to employers seeking to meet their peak season workforce needs.
Once the legislation is signed into law, our focus will shift to the regulatory agencies to ensure implementation of the legislative text. We will also continue to press Congress to pass substantive reform legislation, which will streamline and improve this program for the long-term. The specific language found in the funding bill can be read below.
SEC. 543. Notwithstanding the numerical limitation set forth in section 214(g)(1)(B) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1184(g)(1)(B)), the Secretary of Homeland Security, after consultation with the Secretary of Labor, and upon the determination that the needs of American businesses cannot be satisfied in fiscal year 2017 with United States workers who are willing, qualified, and able to perform temporary nonagricultural labor, may increase the total number of aliens who may receive a visa under section 101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(b) of such Act (8 U.S.C. 1101(a)(15)(H)(ii)(b)) in such fiscal year above such limitation by not more than the highest number of H–2B nonimmigrants who participated in the H–2B returning worker program in any fiscal year in which returning workers were exempt from such numerical limitation.