Trump Administration Introduces DACA Deal Framework as H-2B Visa Applications Grow

January 26, 2018

The White House introduced a legislative framework that includes a path to citizenship for both DACA recipients and unregistered immigrants who are not enrolled in the DACA program but otherwise qualify, covering an estimated total of 1.8 million young immigrants, in exchange for limiting so-called "chain migration," eliminating the Diversity Visa Lottery, and allocating $25 billion for border infrastructure.  Negotiations in Congress continue as the February 8 expiration of the continuing resolution adopted last week approaches, potentially setting up another showdown if Congress and the president cannot come to an agreement.  The DACA program is set to expire on March 5 of this year.  Meanwhile, the H-2B visa—a seasonal work visa used primarily to fill worker shortages in the hotel and retail industries—has seen what the DOL calls an "unprecedented volume of applications," prompting the agency to amend its H-2B processing procedures.  The spike in applications, which is more than triple what was received last year according to DOL, is significant given companies are required to conduct recruitment of U.S. workers and subsequently file a recruitment report to DOL.  The agency plans to process the applications "in sequential order based on the original calendar day and time the application was filed (i.e., receipt time)," a departure from previous years' practice of processing applications simply by calendar date.  Last year, then DHS Secretary John Kelly decided to increase the number of H-2B seasonal work visas due to a labor shortage that placed certain employers that normally rely on H-2B workers in economic distress.  With regard to high-skilled visas, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) has introduced legislation that would dramatically increase the number of H-1B visas allocated from 65,000 to 85,000 per year with a mechanism to expand the cap to 195,000 based on demand.