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Legislation drops H-2B ‘returning worker’ exemption
President Barack Obama signed a stopgap spending bill Dec. 10 temporarily funding the government and also extending E-Verify, the government's electronic employment eligibility verification system, through April 28, 2017.
[SHRM members-only toolkit: Complying with I-9 and E-Verify Requirements]
The U.S. House of Representatives had passed the continuing resolution keeping the government funded and operating through April 28 on Dec. 8 and the U.S. Senate followed with its approval Dec. 9.
In addition to reauthorizing E-Verify, the legislation also keeps alive:
H-2B Cap-Exempt Provision Sunset
The bill did not include a measure allowing employers to count returning temporary guest workers on H-2B visas from previous fiscal years as exempt from the annual cap of 66,000 visas.
The exemption—popular with employers who said it was challenging to hire needed workers for hospitality, landscaping and construction jobs—was first approved in December 2015 appropriations legislation. H-2B workers counted against the annual cap in fiscal years 2013, 2014 or 2015 could return during fiscal year 2016 without counting toward the limit.
Some lawmakers opposed the exemption, arguing it undercut U.S. workers.
Currently, Congress has set the H-2B cap at 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 visas for workers who begin employment in the first half of the fiscal year (Oct. 1-March 31) and 33,000 visas for workers who begin employment in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1-Sept. 30).
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