United States: FY 2018 Spending Bill Reauthorizes Key Immigration Programs, Limited H-2B Cap Relief

• President Trump has signed an appropriations bill that funds the federal government through Fiscal Year 2018. • The bill reauthorizes E-Verify, the EB-5 Regional Center Program and other expiring immigration programs without change through September 30, 2018. • The bill also authorizes DHS to provide additional H-2B cap numbers in this fiscal year if it determines that there are not enough U.S. workers to meet the needs of businesses.

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Mar 23, 2018

A closer look

President Trump has signed an appropriations bill that funds the federal government through Fiscal Year 2018, averting a government shutdown.  The bill was passed by the Senate early Friday morning.

The spending package extends four immigration programs through September 30, 2018 and provides limited cap relief for the H-2B temporary nonagricultural worker program for this fiscal year only. It also includes additional funds for border security and enforcement, but does not provide relief for DACA beneficiaries.

Reauthorization of expiring programs

E-Verify, the Conrad 30 Waiver Program for foreign medical graduates working in underserved areas, and the Special Immigrant Non-Minister Religious Worker Program have been extended without changes through the end of this fiscal year.

The EB-5 Regional Center Program for foreign investors was also reauthorized without change through September 30, 2018.  An EB-5 reform bill that would have increased EB-5 minimum investment amounts and redefined the types of projects eligible for a reduced investment threshold was under consideration, but was not ultimately included in the spending package.  USCIS continues to consider rules that would revise the EB-5 program, according to the agency’s current regulatory agenda.

H-2B cap relief

The spending bill authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to increase the H-2B cap for this fiscal year if, in consultation with the Department of Labor, it determines that there are not enough U.S. workers to meet the needs of American businesses for temporary non-agricultural work.  However, the cap increase cannot exceed the highest number of foreign nationals who participated in the now-expired H-2B returning worker cap exemption in a year in which that exemption was in place. In FY 2017, DHS made 15,000 additional H-2B visa numbers available under a similar provision in last year’s spending package.

Border infrastructure and enforcement

The bill provides just over $1.5 billion for additional fencing and other barriers along the U.S.-Mexico border, far less than the $25 billion originally sought by the Trump Administration for a southern border wall.  It also provides funding for additional Customs and Border Protection officers and continued funding for E-Verify. 

This alert is for informational purposes only.  If you have any questions, please contact the immigration professional with whom you work at Fragomen.

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Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy, LLP, Fragomen Global LLP and affiliates, (collectively known as “Fragomen Worldwide”) is the world’s largest firm dedicated to corporate immigration, and is recognized as the leading global immigration services provider.

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