As discussed in our firm’s previous Immigration Update, the Senate added two immigration-related provisions to the Labor Appropriations Bill. The first provision would recapture employment-based immigrant visa numbers which were not used in 1996 and 1997 and allocate these numbers to Schedule A, Group I (Registered Nurse and Physical Therapist) employment-based immigrant visa petitions. The second provision would have added a new $3,500 User Fee in addition to the other current filing, User and Fraud Fees in the H-1B program. Because these provisions were only contained in the Senate version of the Bill and not the House version of the Bill, these two different versions of the Bills had to be reconciled in a Conference Committee. However, the Conferees in the Conference Committee have decided to strike both of these provisions, especially in light of the extreme opposition to the proposed H-1B User Fee by the business community. Therefore, neither the recapturing provision nor the proposed additional H-1B User Fee will be contained in the final version of the Labor Appropriations Bill. A provision extending the H-2B Returning Worker exemption to the H-2B quota is still being considered in a separate Conference Committee as part of the reconciliation process for the Commerce Appropriations Bill. All (or none) of these provisions may reappear when Congress begins to consider Omnibus Appropriations Bills to complete its passage of the bills necessary to fund the various governmental agencies during this fiscal year.
Additional information about whether the H-2B Returning Worker exemption is contained in the final Commerce Appropriations Bill and whether the recapturing provision and the proposed additional H-1B User Fee provision are contained in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill will be contained in our firm’s future Immigration Updates when it becomes available