H-2B visa provisions included in omnibus federal spending bill

March 23, 2018

Provisions that could double the number of H-2B visas is including an omnibus spending bill approved by Congress early in the morning of March 23, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association said.

The language is the budget bill grants the United States Department of Homeland Security the authority to increase the cap on H-2B visas, which are a critical component of the Thoroughbred industry’s foreign temporary workforce. The Homeland Security Secretary would make the determination after discussions with the U.S. Department of Labor.

Should President Trump signed the budget measure into law, the total number of H2-B visa workers that would be permitted to enter the U.S. in fiscal 2018 would be capped at 129,547, the NTRA said. There isn’t much time however, as fiscal 2018 ends Sept. 30.

If fully implemented, the cap would be equal to the number of new and returning H-2B workers admitted to the U.S. in fiscal 2007, which is the fiscal year when the highest number of H-2B foreign temporary workers participated in the program.

“Congress provided the Secretary of Homeland Security with the same discretionary power to increase H-2B limits as part of the 2017 omnibus spending bill passed in May of last year,” NTRA President and Chief Executive Officer Alex Waldrop said. “Unfortunately, the Secretary did not make the necessary finding of economic need until July of last summer when it was too late for most employers to take advantage of the increased number of H-2B visas before the end of the fiscal year.”

The NTRA, through its membership in the H-2B Workforce Coalition, said it will “urge the (Trump) administration to swiftly implement this H-2B cap relief and will continue to encourage Congress to pass permanent H-2B cap relief.”

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Capitol website)