National Restaurant Association Applauds Senate as One Year Extension of H-2B Returning Worker Program Moves Forward

Washington, DC – The National Restaurant Association today applauded the U.S. Senate for approving a one-year extension of the H-2B returning worker program.  The extension passed as an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, and State Appropriations bill. The chief sponsor, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) offered the amendment that was ultimately approved by unanimous consent. The language will extend a critical provision of the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act that expired on September 30. Extending the relief provision by one year will help a wide range of small businesses, including restaurants, which currently lack enough U.S. workers to fill job vacancies.

“This is a great step in extending the vital H-2B returning worker program, and we appreciate Senator Mikulski’s leadership,” said Mike Shutley, director of legislative affairs for the Association and co-chair of the H-2B Workforce Coalition. “However, there are several hurdles left to clear.  The National Restaurant Association will continue to work with our friends in the House and Senate to ensure this provision is enacted soon.”
Congress enacted the Save Our Small and Seasonal Businesses Act in 2005 to help ensure a more stable seasonal workforce in the United States. The exemption lets employees who have participated in the H-2B seasonal-visa program in at least one of the past three years to return to a U.S. job without counting against the annual 66,000-visa limit. The exemption, however, was not made permanent in the 2005 bill, and has to be extended each year until a pending proposal to make it permanent is passed into law.