Late night on 12/15/2015, Congress released its Omnibus Appropriation Bill, which funds the government until the end of this fiscal year, September 30, 2016. The bill includes a number of immigration issues. Following are some of the issues as summarized by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):
The bill extends:
- The Eb-5 Program
- Conrad 30 Program
- Special Immigrant Religious Worker Program
Changes in processing fees:
- L-1 fees for 50/50 companies increase from $2,250 to $4,500;
- Supplemental H-1B fees for 50/50 companies increase from $2,000 to $4,000;
- Fees must be paid on initial petitions and extension petitions;
- Fees are authorized for ten years, running through September 30, 2025; and
- The funds generated by these fees will be split between the 9-11 programs and the Biometric Entry-Exit program.
Changes to the H-2B Temporary Worker Program:
- Flexibility for H-2B workers in the seafood industry regarding when they can start working;
- Use of private wage surveys;
- Definition of "seasonal" as ten months;
- Limitations on the Department of Labor's ability to implement some aspects of the interim final rule; and
- Exempting H-2B returning workers from the 66,000 annual cap for FY2016.
Visa Waiver Program:
The bill includes the House-passed bill reforming the Visa Waiver Program, which contains categorical exclusions for nationals of Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Sudan, as well as people who travel to those countries.
The bill does not include proposals that would block the Administration from continuing the operation of original DACA or defending the DAPA or expanded DACA programs in the ongoing litigation.