Many MLA members - especially those in the resort segment - are truly seasonal and rely on the H-2B program to augment their domestic workforce during peak season to ensure their operations run at full capacity. The arbitrary cap of 66,000 visas, which was mandated by Congress decades ago and has never been adjusted, is inadequate to meet the season needs of small businesses as it was reached on February 27 of this year. Recognizing the desperate need for additional legal guest workers under the H-2B program, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released an additional 15,000 visas on May 25th but critical workforce shortages remain. AHLA, in partnership with the H-2B Workforce Coalition, helped to craft a returning worker amendment (click here to view) which was offered by Reps. Andy Harris (R-MD), Henry Cuellar (D-TX), Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD), Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Chris Stewart (R-UT) and passed by the full House Appropriations Committee during its consideration of the FY'19 DHS Appropriations bill. The amendment would provide H-2B users with significant cap relief and contains the following provisions: Exempt H-2B workers from the 66,000 annual cap if they participated in the program during one of the previous two fiscal years; Allocate the 66,000 visas for new H-2B workers on a quarterly basis to assist those late season employers whose peak season do not align well with the current bi-annual allocation; Create a system in which in 66,000 H-2B visas for new workers would be allocated on a proportional basis if the cap is reached so that all employers will receive a percentage of H-2B workers. Having this language included in the House bill is extremely beneficial as the Senate Appropriations Committee, which passed its version of the DHS Appropriations measure on June 21, does not contain any H-2B language. The bill does included report language below: H-2B Visa Distribution. -The Committee is concerned that the current semiannual distribution of H-2B visas on April 1 and October 1 of each year unduly disadvantages employers that need H- 2B workers to begin work later in a semiannual period than other employers participating in that period. The Committee directs the Department, in consultation with the Department of Labor, to re- view options to ameliorate this problem consistent with the H-2B provisions of the Immigration and Nationality Act and to report to the Committee on these options not later than 120 days after the date of enactment of this act. Both chambers need to pass their respective bills on the floor before they head to a conference committee. It is unlikely that this will occur before funding for the government expires on September 30, so expect to see a series of continuing resolutions (CRs) and an end-of-the-year omnibus appropriations bill. The AHLA goal will be to ensure this language is included in the final omnibus bill that makes it to the President's desk for his signature. While this is a critical first step, we still have a ways to go before we can provide some additional tangible help to our member properties who rely on the H-2B season guest worker program.