Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are attempting to include a provision in the the 2018 omnibus spending bill that would increase the number of H-2B visas. In the Senate, with the support of Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), a vocal advocate for increasing the number of low-skilled foreign guest workers through the H-2B visa program, is pushing to increase the current cap of 66,000 to 90,000. In the House, Rep. Andy Harris (R-Md.) is seeking to raise the cap to 120,000.

According to Club and Resort Business, Rep. Harris, and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) have been negotiating an increase on the cap with plans to include it in the upcoming spending bill.

Additionally, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has been working with Sen. Tillis on legislation that would increase the H-2B visa cap and would allow more H-2B visas over the next two years specifically for natural disaster and hurricane relief work.

If either Sen. Tillis’ or Rep. Harris’ efforts are successful and included in the upcoming spending bill, the number of H-2B visas would increase for the remainder of 2018, and possibly beyond, up to as much as an 81 percent increase over the current cap.

In 2016, Congress added a provision to the omnibus spending bill that exempted returning H-2B workers from the annual cap. The move allowed employers to apply for up to 264,000 additional foreign guest workers. Then, in 2017, Congress added a provision to the omnibus spending bill that authorized the Department of Homeland Security to issue H-2B visas beyond the annual cap. As a result, then-DHS Secretary John Kelly announced last summer, that DHS would increase the number of H-2B visas by 15,000 for the rest of the fiscal year.
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H-2B visas

Updated: Wed, Apr 4th 2018 @ 10:05am EDT