The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced that it will resume adjudications of H-2B petitions, even though it will continue to suspend premium processing until further notice.
The March 17, 2015, announcement follows the filing of an unopposed motion on March 16 by DOL to stay until April 15the U.S. District Court ruling in Perez v. Perez. That order vacated DOL’s H-2B regulations on the grounds that DOL had no authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act to issue them. DHS suspended H-2B adjudications while it reviewed the decision. As stated in the motion, DHS will resume adjudicating H-2B petitions based on temporary labor certifications issued by DOL.
The DHS announcement follows pressure mounted by stakeholders to resume processing of H-2B petitions already filed, and to accept and process H-2B petitions supported by temporary labor certifications issued prior to March 4, 2015. The court in Perez enjoined DOL from enforcing DOL’s 2008 H-2B regulations. It did not invalidate H-2B temporary labor certifications already issued by the DOL, nor did it direct USCIS to end processing of H-2B petitions supported by previously issued temporary labor certifications. The stakeholders have argued that Perez does not require USCIS to cease processing of their H-2B petitions. They have lamented that the suspension of processing could potentially have a significant impact on a wide range of industries, including resort and hospitality, seafood, landscaping, grounds maintenance, and forestry, to name but a few. Businesses that use the H-2B program to supplement workforce needs will face serious labor shortages, and the potential for significant economic loss across several industries is tremendous.
To fill the regulatory gap occasioned by the court order, DOL and DHS announced on March 13, that they intend to issue a joint interim final rule by April 30, 2015.