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Congress Passes FY 2019 Spending Bill, Avoiding a Second Government Shutdown

By February 15, 2019March 31st, 2021Immigration, News
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Last night Congress passed an appropriations bill that will fund the Department of Homeland Security, the State Department, and other federal agencies through to September 30, 2019. The President is expected to sign the bill Friday morning. Below is a summary of the immigration impacts this funding has:

Border Security

The bill allotted $1.375 billion for additional fencing and other barriers along the U.S. and Mexico border. The funds will also go to strengthening border security and additional personnel. This figure is significantly lower than the $5.7 billion that was originally sought by the President.

Expiring Programs

E-Verify, the Conrad 30 waiver program, and the special immigrant non-minister religious worker program are all extended without change through the end of the fiscal year.

The Regional Center EB-5 Program has also been extended without change. The EB-5 program, also known as the Million Dollar Green Card, allows investors to obtain a green card if they invest either $500,000 or $1,000,000 in business or projects that will create 10 full time jobs. To learn more about the program, please click here. However, DHS is planning to propose a regulation that would significantly increase investment minimums for the entire EB-5 program and would give USCIS more authority over it.

During the shutdown, when the EB-5 program expired, USCIS was still accepting new cases but were not adjudicating them. Cases will now be adjudicated again, but applicants should expect a longer wait time due to the backlog.

H-2B Cap Relief

DHS is now authorized to increase the H-2B cap to more than 66,000 for FY 2019. The H-2B visa nonimmigrant program permits employers to hire foreign workers to come temporarily to the United States and perform temporary nonagricultural services or labor on a one-time, seasonal, peakload or intermittent basis. The most the cap can be increased to, however, cannot be more than the highest number of workers in a fiscal year.

National Emergency

The President is expected to declare national emergency to obtain funding for building the wall that this bill did not provide. A declaration of national emergency happens more commonly than the urgency in the name suggests, as there are currently 31 declared national emergencies in the country at this time. The declaration is likely to be challenged in Congress and the Courts.

More updates regarding the national emergency will be provided as it happens.

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