On March 5, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it will no longer accept or process H-2B labor certifications or requests for H-2B prevailing wage determinations in light of a March 4 decision in Perez v. Perez, No. 3:14-cv-682 (N.D. Florida, Mar. 4, 2015). Shortly after the DOL announcement, the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Citizenship and Immigration Services followed suit, announcing it will at least temporarily cease approving visa petitions.
These announcements essentially shut down the H-2B program for any company that has not completed the DHS H-2B visa petitioning process. The Department of State is continuing to issue H-2B visas for companies that received DHS visa petition approval prior to the shutdown. AmericanHort is monitoring this situation closely.
While the federal district court affirmed the lack of authority for DOL to issue unilateral rules, the court order in no way required DOL to suspend processing prevailing wage determinations or labor certifications as part of its role as a consultant agency to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Further, the law and DHS regulations require DOL to perform these functions. DOL had provided these services to DHS without a rule making for more than 40 years and should continue to do so even in light of the court order. In addition, the court decision did not require DHS to suspend H-2B visa petition processing.
Many AmericanHort members, especially landscape companies, are caught up in the bureaucratic stonewalling. The resulting labor shortages will hurt the entire industry. For this reason, AmericanHort has launched a second H-2B grassroots action call in just a few weeks. Take a few moments to send your U.S. Senators and Representative a message urging them to act to help resolve the situation.
As a result of strong and coordinated grassroots efforts, several Senators and members of Congress have already called or written to DOL and DHS urging them to resume H-2B processing. AmericanHort will continue to fight to preserve the H-2B program.
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