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Last Update :7/31/2018

H-2B Returning Worker Exemption Added to 2019 DHS Appropriations Bill

H-2B Returning Worker Exemption Added to 2019 DHS Appropriations Bill

On July 25, 2018, the House Appropriations Committee approved the 2019 Department of Homeland Security budget that included the H-2B Returning Worker Exemption introduced by Rep Harris (MD), "The amendment adds language restoring a two-year "look back" within the H-2B seasonal guest worker visa program, exempting a certain number of return workers from the overall cap. It also sets up a system to allow a proportional number of visas for businesses, instead of all or none, when there is a higher demand for visas than the total number authorized."  The amendment authorizes up to 66,000 exempt visas. They shall be allocated on a quarterly basis; 9,900 first quarter (Oct-Dec), 26,400 in second quarter (Jan-Mar), 26,000 in third quarter (Apr-Jun), and 3,300 in fourth quarter (Jul-Sep). The bill still requires full House vote.

appropriations.house.gov/news/...

https://docs.house.gov/meetings/AP/AP00/20180725/108623/HMKP-115-AP00-20180725-SD004.pdf

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Ronnie Miles
Director of Advocacy
NGCOA
Daniel Island SC
[843-471-2714]
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Original Message:
Sent: 07-26-2018 12:47
From: Ronnie Miles
Subject: H-2B Returning Worker Exemption Added to 2019 DHS Appropriations Bill

H-2B Returning Worker Amendment Passes Committee!

NGCOA has been working with the H-2B Workforce Alliance to encourage Congress to take positive steps to improve the H-2B Nonimmigrant Worker Program. We did see limited success in 2018 with Congress approving an increase of H-2B Visas as part of the 2018 Omnibus Funding, only to see the Department of Homeland only approving 15K additional visas in 2018. Now the battle moves to 2019 where the Alliance is advocating for the return of the Returning Worker Exemption (RWE) program. The RWE will provide golf course operators who participate in the H-2B program a more stable and reliable seasonal workforce.

Congress has begun deliberation on a number of 2019 Appropriation bills. The H-2B Workforce Alliance through its members has been working with members of Congress to address the RWE during their deliberation of the Department of Homeland Security(DHS) Appropriations debate.

Here is a summary from the H-2B Workforce Alliance on the outcomes of the first round of hearings held on July 25th 2018 on this amendment.

 --------------------------------------------------------------

Thanks again for all of the amazing outreach to the Hill this week.  We are thrilled that earlier today that the House Appropriations Committee passed an H-2B amendment offered by Reps. Andy Harris (R-MD), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Chris Stewart (R-UT) that would do the following:

  •     Exempt H-2B workers from the 66,000 annual cap if they received an H-2B visa during one of the previous two fiscal years;
  •     Allocate the 66,000 visas for new H-2B workers on a quarterly basis to assist employers whose season's do not align well with the current bi-annual allocation;
  •     Create a system in which in 66,000 H-2B visas for new workers would be allocated on a proportional basis if the cap is reached so that all employers will receive a percentage of H-2B workers.

During the markup, the amendment sponsors, Homeland Security Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Yoder (R-KS) and Rep. John Moolenaar (R-MI) all spoke very eloquently about the need for additional H-2B workers and how these workers support American jobs.  If any of these Members are your Representative, please time a few minutes to say thank you.

So What Comes Next?

The House Appropriations Committee is still debating the FY 19 Homeland Security Appropriations bill and will likely pass it late today.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed its version of the Homeland Security measure on June 21. The bill is silent on H-2B cap relief, but it does include report language that states:

H–2B Visa Distribution. -The Committee is concerned that the current semiannual distribution of H–2B visas on April 1 and October 1 of each year unduly disadvantages employers that need H– 2B workers to begin work later in a semiannual period than other employers participating in that period. The Committee directs the Department, in consultation with the Department of Labor, to review options to ameliorate this problem consistent with the H–2B provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act and to report to the Committee on these options not later than 120 days after the date of enactment of this act.

On June 29, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its spending bill for the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and Education.  The bill continues the provisions from last year's Omnibus Appropriations law related to the H-2B wage methodology and wage surveys, corresponding employment, the ¾ guarantee, a 10-month season and staggered crossing for seafood workers.

The House Appropriations Committee approved its version of the legislation on July 11. That bill includes only the provision related to the staggered crossing of seafood workers.

Both chambers need to pass their final appropriations bills, work to iron out the differences between the bills in conference and then pass final Homeland Security and Health and Human Services, Labor and Education appropriations bill either as stand-alone bills or in combination with other appropriations bills. The President would then need to sign the final bill into law.  

Congress is working to pass all of its appropriations bills prior to the start of Fiscal 2019 on October 1, but this deadline is often missed, requiring Congress to pass one or more short-term temporary funding measures called a continuing resolutions.
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NGCOA will continue to follow this amendment and provide updates here on Accelerate. We ask members that when you meet with your representatives to let them know how this bill affects your operation and encourage their support!

------------------------------
Ronnie Miles
Director of Advocacy
NGCOA
Daniel Island SC
[843-471-2714]
------------------------------



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