On May 4, 2017, Congress passed an appropriations bill to fund the federal government through Fiscal Year 2017. The bill also extended four immigration programs through September 30, 2017. These programs are E-VERIFY, the Conrad 30 Waiver Program for foreign medical graduates working in underserved areas, the special immigrant non-minister religious work program and the EB-5 Regional Center Program.
Congress has consistently reauthorized these programs on an annual basis; however, a proposed regulation could increase the investment minimums for the EB-5 Regional Center Program and grant the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) more authority over that program.
The spending bill also includes possible relief from the 66,000-cap of H-2B visas in the temporary nonagricultural worker program for FY 2017. The bill authorized the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to increase the cap if, after consulting with the Department of Labor, DHS determines there are not sufficient able, wiling and qualified U.S. workers to meet the needs of the American businesses for temporary nonagricultural work. There was no specific timeline set forth on the possible increase. Therefore, it is important that employers utilizing the H-2B program apply for these visas as soon as possible.
Littler will continue to monitor these developments.