UPDATED 2/14/2019 at 12:52PM
Ahead of Friday's deadline to pass a budget to keep the government open for 2019, it is being reported that Democrat and Republican leaders in the US House of Representatives drafted a bill to fund the Department of Homeland Security for the remainder of 2019 and expect President Trump to sign off on it.
Pertaining to H-2B visas, the official language of the bill gives the Department of Homeland Security the ability to issue an additional 69,320 H-2B visas at their discretion. This is the same language that was included in the FY2017 and FY2018 DHS bills. During each of the last two years, DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen issued an additional 15,000 visas.
In an interview last May, Nielsen said:
"We are once again in a situation where Congress has passed the buck and turned a decision over to DHS that would be better situated with Congress, who knows the needs of the program. As Secretary, I remain committed to protecting U.S. workers and strengthening the integrity of our lawful immigration system and look forward to working with Congress to do so," Nielsen added in her statement.
“Congress gave me the discretionary authority to provide temporary relief to American businesses in danger of suffering irreparable harm due to a lack of available temporary workers,” Kelly said at the time.
Currently, the department of labor is continuing to process labor certifications for the second half of the cap for workers beginning on April 1. Approximately 73,000 applications have been certified to date for the 33,000 available H-2B visas.
As details emerge, we will keep you informed.