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Rounds Statement on H-2B Provisions in Omnibus

WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) today issued the following statement on the inclusion of language in the omnibus that provides a path for the administration to increase the number of H-2B visas by 69,000 for Fiscal Year 2018:


“With one of the lowest unemployment rates in the nation, South Dakota’s workforce depends on temporary, H-2B visa workers to fill important short-term, seasonal jobs each year when employers are unable to find American workers to fill them. While the omnibus fix is not a guaranteed solution, it does provide a path for South Dakota employers to be able to fill jobs during the busy construction and tourist seasons. We will be working closely with the administration to urge them to lift the cap of H-2B visas – and quickly – so South Dakota employers can fill these important jobs as soon as possible.”


The statutory cap on H-2B visas for Fiscal Year 2018 was filled January 1, 2018, leaving many South Dakota employers who rely on H-2B visas with no one to fill necessary, temporary jobs.


Last week, Rounds joined a number of his colleagues in a letter urging the Senate to include language in the upcoming appropriations bill to reauthorize the returning worker exemption for the H-2B seasonal worker visa program. The returning worker program exemption essentially increases the H-2B cap by exempting those who came to the U.S. the previous year from the current year’s numbers.


Additionally, Rounds wrote a letter last December requesting expanded access to H-2B visas for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2018 and beyond.


Text of the omnibus appropriations bill for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2018 was released last night. Rounds and his staff continue to read and analyze the entire package, which passed the House of Representatives earlier today. A vote is expected in the Senate by the end of the week.