Government affairs

Legislative Updates

Spending bill allows increase of temporary visas

The omnibus spending bill, otherwise known as the Consolidated Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2017 (H.R. 244), was signed into law on May 5.

Of the many provisions within the bill, one of note allows the Secretary of Homeland Security to increase H-2B visas for temporary labor through the end of September. The H-2B visa program is a non-agricultural, guest worker program that is frequently used by employers to fill seasonal and temporary jobs, jobs that many low-skilled American workers without college degrees rely on.

This provision, sought by Democrats and Republicans alike, states that the 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 limit is set to 66,000 per fiscal year. This new provision allows for an additional 70,000 visas to be issued before the end of September 2017.

The H-2B visa program has been criticized for seemingly replacing American workers while exploiting and abusing foreign workers.

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