Immigration Provisions in the Omnibus Appropriations Bill for 2016

December 20, 2015

On December 18, 2015, following the adoptive vote by the Senate and the House, the President signed into law  the Consolidated Appropriations Act for 2016  (Public Law 114-113).

Some of those immigration issues include:

  •  The bill extends the EB-5, Conrad 30, Special Immigrant Religious Workers, and E-Verify programs through the end of Fiscal Year 2016 (September 30, 2016).
  • For companies where 50% or more employees hold H-1B status, the Supplemental L-1 fees increase from $2250 to $4500 and Supplemental H-1B fees increase from $2000 to $5000.   The fees must be paid on both initial and extension petitions.
  • The bill also makes certain changes to the H-2B Temporary Non-Agricultural Worker program:
    • Exempts H-2B returning workers from the 66,000 annual cap;
    • Requires wages to be based on the job category and experience level required, rather than the median wage;
    • Clearly defines seasonal as ten months, as opposed to the nine months in the 2015 H-2B rule;
    • Flexibility for H-2B workers in the seafood industry regarding when they can start working;
    • Allows use of private wage surveys;
    • Defines “seasonal” as ten months; and
    • Limits the Department of Labor’s ability to implement some aspects of the interim 2015 H-2B final rule.
  •  The bill includes the House-passed bill reforming the Visa Waiver Program (VWP), which contains categorical exclusions for nationals of Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Sudan, as well as people who travel to those countries.

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