The House Appropriations Committee released text late Sunday night on a compromise spending bill that would allow for a doubling of the number of H-2B visas for FY2017. Congress has until Friday night to approve a spending bill to avoid a government shutdown.
The H-2B visa is a low-skilled, guest worker program that is typically used by employers to fill seasonal and temporary jobs, but these are the very jobs that many Americans without a college degree rely on to make ends meet.
The omnibus provision states that the DHS Secretary can increase the number of visas, "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." The current cap for H-2B visas is 66,000 per year, but this provision would allow for another 70,000 visas to be issued in the current fiscal year.
In the 2016 omnibus bill Congress passed a provision that exempted any H-2B worker who had been approved for a H-2B visa in the previous three years from counting against the visa cap, quadrupling the number of H-2B visas that could be issued to 264,000. The provision was not renewed in 2017.
In 2015 Buzzfeed released an expose on the H-2B visa and how it replaces American workers and exploits foreign workers. They released an investigative report last year on the abuses found within the H-2B program.
Read more on this story at The Washington Post.
Updated: Mon, May 15th 2017 @ 9:50am EDT