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Progress made on H-2B visa Returning Worker Exemption effort

By Brock Huffstutler

June 25, 2023

U.S. Capitol buildingThe American Rental Association (ARA) is a member of the H-2B visa steering committee — a part of the association’s Workforce Development initiative. The H-2B visa program enables temporary seasonal (unskilled, nonagricultural) workers to come to the United States to work in industries needing extra help during certain seasons, such as tenting in the busy summer months. 

Many of those who participated in ARA’s National Legislative Caucus in Washington, D.C., in March 2023 advocated on behalf of the H-2B visa program. Specifically, this was done by asking for Returning Worker Exemption, which will greatly simplify the program for businesses seeking this seasonal help by exempting certain workers from the annual numerical limit on H-2B visas. 

Recently, these ARA members were asked to write to their members of Congress to ask them to sign onto a letter — to be sent to members of the Appropriations Committee — asking that the Returning Worker Exemption be included in the Department of Homeland Security appropriations budget for 2024. 

This past week, the House Appropriations Committee passed the FY 2024 Homeland Security appropriations bill by a vote of 33-25. Early in the bill’s markup, the committee adopted a “manager’s amendment” that includes a one-year Returning Worker Exemption with a three-year look back. 

“While there is a long way to go in the appropriations process, this action is a very important first step,” says Alysia Ryan, J.D., ARA director, government affairs. “Until now, the committee had not included a Returning Worker Exemption in a committee-passed bill in a few years. Thank you to those who responded by writing and calling their members of Congress!”