US Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Thom Tillis (R-NC) and a bipartisan group of 29 senators have requested an audit to determine the number of unused visas during the first half of FY2017. The Senators sent a letter to Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, outlining concerns that the second half of FY2017 H-2B visa statutory cap will be reached soon. They requested that any unused visas be made available immediately. Previous audits of this nature have discovered unused visas.
In the letter, the Senators cited input from small businesses that “will likely be locked out of a necessary program that they rely on during their busiest seasons. Failure to access these critical workers will harm small businesses, American workers, and the economy.”
Currently, the H-2B visa cap set by Congress is 66,000 per fiscal year, with 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the first half of the fiscal year (October 1 - March 31) and 33,000 to be allocated for employment beginning in the second half of the fiscal year (April 1 - September 30). On January 10, the H-2B visa cap for the first half of the 2017 fiscal year was reached.
With the cap looming, it is evident that small businesses and clubs could be shut out of this program for the remainder of FY2017. CMAA supports the congressional extension of the expired returning worker provision, which exempts workers who previously used the program to be exempt from the cap. Congress opted not to extend this provision for FY2017.