The GCSAA government affairs team continues to assist members with their H-2B visa program needs and inquiries. There has been a lot of activity focused on the H-2B visa program coming out of Washington, D.C., during the past few weeks including:
- House Appropriations Committee H-2B visa cap vote
- USCIS announcement of cap reached for additional H-2B visas for FY 2019
- OFLC announcement of new H-2B application forms
On June 11, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee took up the Fiscal 2020 Department of Homeland Security Appropriations bill. During the markup, Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) offered an amendment to address the H-2B cap. This amendment was similar to the language in current law that states that DHS may allow additional visas if the needs of seasonal businesses cannot be filled with US workers, but it says that DHS "shall" release additional visas if the needs of seasonal businesses cannot be filled by US workers. This word change takes some of the discretion for releasing additional visas away from DHS.
In addition to the amendment sponsors, Ranking Member Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN) and Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL) all expressed support for the amendment. Subcommittee Ranking Member Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA) opposed the amendment. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) said he was not taking a position on the amendment but cautioned against foreign workers taking away jobs from America's youth.
Thanks to everyone who weighed in with their Members of Congress who serve on the Appropriations Committee. This vote is a significant victory. There are many steps in the annual appropriations process, but getting positive H-2B language in the House bill is a significant first step. In addition to working on the annual spending process, GCSAA is working as a member of the H-2B Workforce Committee with Congress on a long-term solution to address the H-2B cap.
H-2B numerical cap
On June 7, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) announced it had reached the numerical cap for the 30,000 additional H-2B visas made available this past spring. The final day that it accepted visas under this additional cap was June 5, 2019.
The reaching of the numerical cap shows there continues to be a need for additional visas and that 30,000 is not enough to meet the needs of seasonal businesses from around the country. GCSAA wants the government to take notice the 30,000 cap was quickly reached (and that 30,000 additional visas was still not enough to meet the staffing demand) as discussions continue about potential H-2B visa cap reform.
For more information, review the Greenberg Traurig blog post.
New H-2B application forms
On June 6, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) received Office of Management and Budget approval for revisions to the H-2B Application for Temporary Employment Certification (Form ETA-9142B) and corresponding appendices, and related forms and instructions. These revisions better align information collection requirements with the department's regulations, provide greater clarity to employers on regulatory requirements, standardize and streamline information collection to reduce employer time and burden preparing applications, and promote greater efficiency and transparency in OFLC's review and issuance of labor certification decisions under the H-2B program. This new form must be used for all new H-2B applications beginning July 3. To obtain a copy of the new H-2B application form and its instructions, click here.
OFLC has created instructional videos to help educate the stakeholder community on how to create and manage a FLAG System account and prepare the Form ETA-9142B and corresponding appendices. To obtain more information and view these instructional videos, visit the H-2B Program page on the FLAG System at https://flag.dol.gov/. The new videos were posted on June 7.
For more detailed information from OFLC, read here.