Efforts Underway to Address H-2B Visas for 2020
On June 19, the House of Representatives passed an FY 2020 spending package that includes funding for the Department of Labor (DOL). The spending bill contains an H-2B provision that would allow for visas to be allocated proportionally on a quarterly basis.
The House is now debating on a second funding package that includes funding for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). That bill modifies the current H-2B cap discretionary language to take away some of the discretion from DHS about releasing additional visas. As you know, the fiscal 2017, 2018 and 2019 DHS appropriations bills said that DHS “may” release up to 69,320 visas if it determines that the needs of seasonal businesses cannot be met with American workers. The bill that the Appropriations Committee just advanced in the House states that DHS “shall” release up to 69,320 visas if it determines that the needs of seasonal businesses cannot be met with American workers.
The Senate has not yet acted on any spending bills, but we are advocating for the same language to be included in the Senate DOL and DHS funding bills. We are also advocating for legislation to permanently address the cap.
As with the past several years, the federal appropriations process is expected to be contentious and could drag out past the start of FY 2020. However, getting positive H-2B language in the House DOL and DHS funding bills is a very significant first step in this process.