H-2B Visa Exemption Signed by President

Edited press release

Legislation designed to ease problems caused by a cap on H-2B visas is included in a sweeping appropriations bill President Bush signed May 11, the American Horse Council reported.

The United States earlier this year began enforcing a 66,000 cap on H-2B visas, which are required by foreign workers on which the horse industry relies. Legislation sponsored by Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski exempts for the next two years any foreign worker who received a visa under the H-2B program in the past three years.

The new provision will allow the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service to begin processing H-2B visas again immediately. The service is expected to issue instructions on filing these applications shortly.

"This will benefit many employers in the horse industry who rely on the H-2B program to bring semi-skilled, alien workers into the U.S. for non-agricultural jobs," AHC president Jay Hickey said. "Many trainers, training facilities, horse shows, and other service providers in the industry rely on these workers to fill jobs American don't want."

The change exempts any alien who received an H-2B visa in the past three years from the cap, though an employer must certify the worker received such a visa. The new provision applies for the next two years--fiscal years 2005 and 2006.

"This is a temporary fix to a difficult problem," Hickey said. "Comprehensive immigration reform is needed not only for these non-agricultural workers but also for those aliens who are admitted on H-2A agricultural visas to work at horse breeding farms."

The AHC said industry employers who use the H-2B program should contact their attorneys or consultants to determine how the change may affect them, even if they received visas for this year.