Close

Appropriations Bill Could Provide H-2B Visa Relief

Bill could double number of visas available.

 

Congress on the morning of March 23 passed a Fiscal 2018 omnibus appropriations bill, which includes language that could almost double the number of H-2B visas available, potentially improving a dire situation for Thoroughbred trainers who depend on these visas for the industry’s sizable foreign temporary workforce.

The bill provides the Secretary of Homeland Security the authority to raise the cap on H-2B visas if the Secretary, in consultation with the Department of Labor, determines there is an economic need.

If the omnibus spending bill is signed into law by President Trump, the total number of H-2B workers that may enter the U.S. during fiscal 2018, which ends on Sept. 30, 2018, will then be capped at 129,547. If fully implemented, this new 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 H-2B 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,” said National Thoroughbred Racing Association President and CEO Alex Waldrop. “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, will urge the Administration to swiftly implement this H-2B cap relief and will continue to encourage Congress to pass permanent H-2B cap relief.

H-2B Provision Stays in Congress-Approved Spending Bill

An industry-supported provision that could allow additional foreign, seasonal H-2B visa workers made it through Congress as part of the government-funding bill signed by the Senate May 4.

As the House of Representatives approved the spending bill earlier this week, it now awaits an expected quick signature from President Donald Trump.

Currently only 66,000 H-2B seasonal work visas are allowed to be granted this year, but a provision in the spending bill, which funds the government through the fiscal year that ends in September, would give the Secretary of Homeland Security, in consultation with the Secretary of Labor, the authority to nearly double the H-2B cap when it’s determined there is an economic need.

National Thoroughbred Racing Association president Alex Waldrop said the NTRA will now work with the administration to get the H-2B provision implemented.

Horse racing is just one of many industries that relies on the H-2B visa program, joining businesses such as landscaping and seasonal resorts.

Congress in 2016 failed to renew the “returning worker exemption” that permits H-2B workers from the previous three years with clean records to enter the country again without counting against the 66,000 cap. That exemption had effectively raised the number of workers under H-2B from 66,000 to approximately 190,000.

Back to top