Back in December, President Barack Obama signed a stop-gap spending bill to keep the government running through April 28, 2017. Immigration programs that were extended at that time included the Conrad 30 Waiver, the Non-Minister Religious Worker Visa, the EB-5 Regional Center, and E-Verify.
After weeks of tension, uncertainty and an interim agreement, it seems that the budget bill will pass and the government will be funded through the end of the fiscal year – September 30, 2017. While the bill includes funding for CBP to increase border security and repair existing fencing, there is no allocation for “the wall.” The bill, however, includes the continuation of the following:
- The E-Verify Program, a favorite of the Administration.
- The Non-Minister Religious Worker Visa Program, which allows those with a religious vocation or occupation to emigrate to the U.S.
- The Conrad 30 Waiver will be available for physicians who work in underserved areas, although the lack of premium processing continues to inhibit timely employment pursuant to issued waivers.
- The EB-5 Regional Program will continue even as the DHS considers regulatory reform.
- While the H-2B “returning worker” exemption has not been included, there is a provision that could double the total number of H-2B visas available this year by giving the Secretary of DHS the authority to increase the number of H-2B visas available “by not more than the highest number of H-2B nonimmigrants who participated in the H-2B returning worker program in any fiscal year in which returning workers were exempt from such numerical limitation.”
While it is expected that President Donald Trump will sign the bill, he tweeted, “Our country needs a good ‘shutdown’ in September to fix mess!”