Government Funding and H-2B Update

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The House passed two massive spending packages on Tuesday totaling $1.4 trillion. The bills will fund the federal government through September 30, 2020. The Senate plans to pass the measures later this week. President Trump is planning to sign the bills into law, averting a government shutdown. The federal government is currently operating under a temporary spending package that runs through December 20.

The spending package includes the same language as last year’s appropriation measures including the language that gives DHS the discretion to release additional visas and the labor provisions that have been in force for the last few years. While we were hopeful for cap language that would provide a little more direction to DHS, we are extremely pleased that this language was included in the final bill, given the extreme opposition to any cap relief from H-2B program opponents.

The bill also includes some report language, or directions to DHS, which we believe will help compel DHS to move quickly to release the additional visas authorized by the bill. The report language states that, “USCIS is encouraged to leverage prior year materials relating to the issuance of additional H-2B visas, to include previous temporary final rules, to improve processing efficiencies.”

In addition, the report language directs the Departments of Homeland Security, Labor and State to provide a report to Congress within 120 days on ways to improve H-2A and H-2B processing including “processing efficiencies; combatting human trafficking; protecting worker rights; and reducing employer burden, to include the disadvantages imposed on such employers due to the current semiannual distribution of H-2B visas on October 1 and April 1 of each fiscal year.”

The bill also includes the previous provisions of law that prevent DOL from enforcing the corresponding employment and 3/4 guarantee provisions of the 2015 regulations, allow for a 10-month season and allow for the use of private wage surveys.

AmericanHort at the H-2B Workforce Coalition are now working with our Congressional champions to encourage DHS to quickly release the additional visas authorized by the bill.

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