Details of the Grassley/Tillis H2B Cap Relief package have been announced. While this is great news for all H2B stakeholders, the bill has not been signed yet! Please read the details of the bill below and take appropriate action to ensure that this bill gets included in the 2019 FY government spending bill that will be voted on before December 7, 2018 December 22, 2018!
The following would go into effect immediately after the bill is signed.
- A permanent increase in the cap from 66,000 to 132,000 visas.
- Cap exempt visas, within specified SOC Codes, for workers performing work that directly supports the reconstruction or restoration of physical property and infrastructure or debris clean-up and removal related to natural disasters, in declared disaster states.
- H-2B employers will be required to participate in the federal E-Verify program for all employees hired no later than 1 year after enactment of legislation AND within 3 years of enactment ALL hires made on or after October 1, 2012. For each worker who fails E-Verify, the employer may replace the worker with a cap exempt H-2B worker for up to three years. The worker would count against the cap after the third year.
- Increase in the anti-fraud fee from $150 to $350 per petition.
- Establishment of DOL electronic jobs registry. DOL will collect a fee from H-2B employers to pay for this registry.
The following goes into effect in fiscal year 2020 (October 1, 2019):
- Allocation of visas is changed from current bi-annual allocation to quarterly allocation (Oct-Dec- 14%, January-March: 45%, April-June: 39%, July-September 2%).
- All H-2B employers with dates of need in a quarter will apply to DOL at the same time, regardless of the start date in the quarter. Employers can return to requesting their customary start date (ex. March 1) without fear of being 100% shut out of the program.
- Employers who have received an approved visa petition in at least three of the last five years (compliant seasonal employers or CSEs) shall receive priority status for the available visas. No less than 15% of the visas shall go be distributed to new entrants to the program. If either of the visa categories (CSE, new entrants) is oversubscribed, visas shall be allocated on a proportional basis.
- If either visa category is not exhausted during a given quarter, visas shall be transferred to the other category. If visas remain, visas shall roll over to the next quarter.
Now it is time for us to sell the package to ensure it makes it into the 2019 government funding bill.
The 2018 government funding bill is set to expire on December 7th (now extended until December 22).
CALL TO ACTION:
Write the staff members for your Representatives who have jurisdiction over the H-2B issue to ask that their Members make a personal request to Speaker Ryan (if your Congressman is a Republican) and to Minority Leader Pelosi (if your Congressman is a Democrat).
Write the staff members for your Senators who have jurisdiction over the H-2B issue to ask that their Senators make a personal request to Majority Leader McConnell (if your Senator is a Republican) and to Minority Leader Schumer (if your Senator is a Democrat).
You can reach your elected officials through the Capitol Switchboard at 202-225-3121. Once connected to your Representative or Senator’s office ask to speak to the person who handles H-2B issues. Please make these calls today!