Immigration Law

OFLC Issues H-2B Processing Announcement (Jan. 11, 2019)

OFLC, Jan. 11, 2019

"In continuing to keep the public well-informed regarding submission and processing of H-2B Applications for Temporary Employment Certification and the iCERT system, the Department of Labor (the Department) has the following updates:

The Department is processing applications according to procedures announced on June 1, 2018, whereby applications are assigned to analysts for processing based on the date and time at which the application was received into the system. Under normal, pre-established procedures, Notices of Acceptance and Notices of Deficiency will be issued on a rolling basis, and certifications will be issued as the employer meets all regulatory requirements.

Applicants' official receipt date and time are saved in the iCERT database and displayed on the applicants H-2B Portfolio Screen. This official date and time determines the order in which applications are assigned for processing.

The Department has received questions about the difference between timestamps displayed in iCERT and timestamps contained in emails confirming the submission of applications. When an applicant submits an application, the system generates a courtesy email to the applicant which confirms the submission. The date and time in the courtesy email, however, does not represent the official date and time of the applicant's submission. Rather, it indicates the time at which the email was generated. To reiterate, the official date and time of each application may be viewed in the applicant's H-2B Portfolio Screen through the applicant's iCERT system account.

The Department undertook an after-action analysis of the iCERT system's January 7, 2019 performance. Through a review of the data logs, the Department has determined that 186 applicants submitted the same application more than once in the iCERT system. Because the iCERT database overwrites the previous date and time stamp when a new submission is made, the official date and time saved in the iCERT database is the date and time of the final submission. For these 186 applications, the Department was able to determine the time of the first submission down to the second. For the 152 applicants with multiple submissions within the same second, the final time stamp to the millisecond is reflected in the official date and time. In the remaining 34 cases, the submissions were made outside of the same second. Those applications are now at the first submission's second. These time stamps are reflected in the official receipt date and time that may be viewed on the H-2B Portfolio Screen through an iCERT system account.

Some users received an outage banner which delayed or blocked access to the H-2B page in the iCERT system. To increase processing capacity on January 7, 2019, the Department scaled up iCERT infrastructure to 50 load-balanced servers. One of the pathways to these servers did not allow access to the iCERT's H-2B module system at the 2:00 p.m. EST opening of the system, and for approximately two and half hours thereafter. All iCERT users were randomly assigned to a server at log-on as per a standard load-balancing algorithm. As a result, users assigned to this particular pathway experienced the outage banner and may have been delayed from getting into iCERT's H-2B module.

In addition, the Department received questions regarding whether there was a restoration of data due to data corruption. There was no restoration of data from back-up and no data corruption found connected to the system disruption of January 1, 2019.

The Department was notified that some applicants were missing certain required data or attachments from their applications. As per standard practice, applicants are encouraged to log into their iCERT accounts and verify that their applications are complete and accurate. If any attachments are missing, applicants may upload them at any time. If any required data fields on the ETA-9142B are missing or inaccurate, applicants may contact the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) help desk at tlc.chicago@dol.gov and provide the relevant H-2B case number and explain the necessary corrections.

In light of the unprecedented demand for H-2B labor certifications, the Department is considering rulemaking changing the process by which applications are ordered for processing, including randomization and other methods. In the interim, the Department welcomes comments and suggestions from the public on these matters. Comments and suggestions should be directed to the H2BReform.Comments@dol.gov."