A provision in the 2,009 page year-end spending bill passed by Congress restores the “returning worker” exemption for the H-2B Visa Program, which provides that if a foreign worker under the H-2B program has been counted against the overall H-2B cap in one of the three prior years, that worker can return to work in the H-2B program in the current year without being counted against the current year's cap. The provision should increase the number of H-2B visas for foreign workers seeking seasonal, non-agricultural jobs, in areas such as construction.
The H-2B program allows U.S. employers to recruit foreign workers when there are not sufficient American workers to fill job vacancies for temporary and seasonal positions. In 2015, the demand for H-2B workers exceeded the supply and the annual H-2B cap of 66,000 was hit. Inclusion of the provision comes amid a labor shortage in the construction industry.