Late yesterday, Congressman Bill Keating introduced legislation to exempt returning workers from the Department of Homeland Security’s H-2B cap. Specifically, workers who received an H-2B visa in FY14, 15, or 16 are exempt from being counted against the statutory cap on H-2B visas for the entirety of FY17. Congressman Keating introduced this legislation with Congressman Jack Bergman (R-MI).
“H-2B workers provide a critical service for seasonal businesses across the country in communities like Cape Cod,” said Congressman Keating. “Many of these returning workers have been employed by the same businesses year after year and are welcomed back by employers and patrons alike. These workers who have long-standing relationships with their employer should be exempt from the current statutory H-2B cap until there is a permanent solution for addressing the worker shortages experienced by these businesses every year. Without this exemption, many of our businesses will fall short of the employees they need to operate at full capacity.”
Congressman Keating has long been a strong advocate for the H-2B program. Last year, he worked closely with Department of Labor (DOL) to resolve H-2B visa processing delays. This involved working directly with the Secretary of Labor and consistent communication with administrators and staff responsible for the program. At Congressman Keating’s urging, DOL put in place emergency processing procedures to make up for lost time from the delays and get workers here as soon as possible.
In preparation for the H-2B season this year, DOL drew from the ideas discussed with and posed by Congressman Keating last year to proactively prepare for the anticipated increase in applications, including by cross-training staff and putting measures in place to streamline the processing of applications.