H-2B and Federal Spending Bill
On February 15, President Trump signed into law a funding bill for several federal agencies including the Departments of Homeland Security (DHS) and Agriculture, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
The funding law includes the same H-2B discretionary language as last year, which gives DHS the authority, in consultation with the Department of Labor, to increase the H-B2 cap for fiscal 2019 to 135,320 (66,000 + 69,320, the latter being the number of H-2B “returning worker” visas issued in FY 2007). This is the same language that was in effect for fiscal 2017 and 2018, though in these years only 15,000 additional visas were released – less than one-quarter of those Congress enabled.
It is disappointing that Congress did not mandate a cap increase or other cap relief, but in this political climate with all of the issues surrounding immigration policy, getting any H-2B cap relief signed into law is a significant achievement. Without the massive advocacy effort from AmericanHort members and grassroots partners, we would not have had anything included in the bill regarding H-2B.
Our advocacy will now focus on getting DHS to swiftly release all of the additional visas allowed under the new law.