Both the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) have suspended all processing under the H-2B program, which many employers use to hire seasonal workers. The decision may impact staffing at hotels and country clubs that often use temporary, unskilled workers during their busy seasons from October to May.
On March 4, a federal district court in Florida found that the Department of Labor did not have authority to issue regulations governing the H-2B program and vacated the DOL’s 2008 regulations. Shortly thereafter, the DOL announced that it would stop processing applications for prevailing wage determinations under the H-2B program and processing the temporary labor certification applications required under the H-2B program. On March 5, the USCIS announced that it would suspend processing on pending H-2B petitions, effectively shutting down the H-2B program.
The DOL and USCIS issued a joint statement on Friday, stating that they are working expeditiously to issue a joint Interim Final Rule by April 30, 2015. The DOL is also exploring whether it can get relief from the court’s order vacating the regulations so that H-2B processing can resume during the period of time before DOL and USCIS issue the Interim Final Rule. In the joint statement, the DOL and DHS recognized the hardship that has resulted from the court’s decision. Nevertheless, it sounds like the agencies are moving very cautiously and that it will be a while before we receive any guidance regarding the H-2B program.