The U.S. Court of Appeals, in Denver, has issued an opinion putting the entire H-2B labor certification and visa process in jeopardy.

The Tenth Circuit found that the U.S. Department of Labor is not a subordinate agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, and, therefore, could not promulgate H-2B regulations. Only DHS, as administrator of the Immigration and Nationality Act, has the authority to propose and implement regulations that govern the issuance of H-2B visas. Because DOL is not a sub-delegate of DHS, it did not have the power to issue H-2B-related regulations.

The Court’s decision puts the agency’s April 2015 H-2B regulations at jeopardy. The agency has not made any statements about the decision. Industries that rely upon temporary foreign labor (e.g., commercial landscaping, oil-and-gas craft services, and sea farming) should expect stop-gap, then long-term rule-making that will result from the Court’s decision. Labor certifications that either have been issued or are in process for the October 1, 2015 visa allotment may be invalid.