H-2B update on FY21 appropriations Email
Written by JOhn McMahon   
Tuesday, November 10, 2020 12:00 AM
H-2B visa program

This morning, the Senate Appropriations Committee released draft FY 21 spending bills on its website to aid in House-Senate discussions on a final spending package for Fiscal 2021, which began on October 1. The federal government is currently operating under a temporary spending bill, or continuing resolution, that runs through Dec. 11.

The Senate version of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) funding bill does not address H-2B cap. However, it does include the following report language:

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 certain employers and employees. The Committee directs the Department, in consultation with the Department of Labor, to examine the impacts of the cur- rent H–2B visa semiannual distribution on employers, employees, and agency operations and to provide the Committee with a briefing on the study not later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this act. 

As you may recall, the House Appropriations Committee-passed version of the DHS funding bill includes the language in current law that gives DHS the ability to increase that cap by up to about 69,000 visas if it determines that the needs of seasonal businesses cannot be met with American workers.  The report that accompanies the bill also includes similar language to the Senate about the annual distribution of visas. It also includes report language requiring the Administration to report on H-2B visa violations, including repeat violations, and the distribution of visas to the largest H-2B employers.

The Senate version of the Department of Labor (DOL) FY 21 funding bill including the following provisions of current law:

  • Allows for staggered crossing for seafood workers;
  • Allows for the use of private wage surveys;
  • Prohibits DOL from enforcing the corresponding employment of ¾ guarantee provisions of its regulations; and
  • Provides for a maximum of a 10-month season.

These provisions are not included in the DOL funding bill passed by the House of Representatives. 

Congress hopes to complete action on the annual spending bills before December 11.  The H-2B Workforce Coalition will keep you updated.

Read the bill text and report language included in each of the spending bills.