By: Kenneth S. Levine

Despite the current Administration’s recent executive orders seeking to place limits on U.S. work visas, a surprising expansion of the H-2B work visa program was included in the annual budget draft introduced this past week. This development is especially welcome news for the landscaping, seafood processing, forestry and hospitality industries, all of whom depend heavily on this visa for temporary, seasonal workers.

The current H-2B visa program has an annual quota of 66,000 workers. The H-2B quota for the entire 2017 fiscal year was exhausted in mid March. The new budget proposal includes a provision that vests authority in the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security to double the annual quota of H-2B visas. It should be noted that, while DHS Secretary Kelly has publicly expressed reservations about doubling H-2B visa availability, he nonetheless signified a willingness to substantially raise the annual 66,000 visa cap.

While virtually every U.S. work visa program is the subject of intense and polarizing debate in Congress, this proposal seems to reflect a recognition by the current administration that U.S. businesses continue to experience significant difficulties in recruiting U.S. workers for temporary, seasonal positions.

For additional information related to this topic and for advice regarding how to navigate U.S. immigration laws you may contact Kenneth S. Levine of the law firm of Freeman, Mathis & Gary, LLP at (770-551-2700) or [email protected].