Immigration Law

Relief in Sight for H-2B Visas?

I have read DOL email chatter about a joint DOL/DHS Interim Final Regulation (IFR) to be published by April 30th that would address the crisis flowing from the March 4, 2015 Perez v. Perez decision.  Watch this space for further news.  DOL and/or DHS may make an announcement soon, perhaps Monday.

Meanwhile, the news is dire:

"U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) joined Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD) and 11 bipartisan Senators in calling on Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson to coordinate and immediately resume accepting and processing H-2B visa applications. Seasonal workers returning to the United States under H-2B visas are critical to ensuring Virginia’s seafood businesses have the labor force they need during peak harvest season." - Augusta Free Press, Mar. 14, 2015.

"Dozens of local companies are in panic mode trying to figure out how they are going to hire enough staff to get them through the next few seasons.  A federal court ruling on March 4 voided the U.S. Department of Labor's H-2B regulations. H-2B is a kind of visa that allows immigrants to fill seasonal nonagricultural jobs.  After a judge told the Department of Labor it lacked authority to issue them, up to 66,000 seasonal jobs may not be filled.  About 100 companies in Ohio rely on seasonal work from immigrants on an H-2B visa.  The new court ruling will stop about 1,400 of those workers from doing jobs in Ohio.  About 700 of those jobs are in Northeast Ohio.  "Landscape, hospitality, basically any seasonal position that is really hard to fill because people want full-time work. They want health insurance, they want benefits, they want all the things that come along with that full-time stable work," said Bill Dysert who owns a landscape design company Exscape Designs." - WKYC, Mar. 14, 2015.

"A federal visa program used by fish processing plants and diamond sellers in Alaska to hire seasonal workers from abroad is on temporary hold in response to a court ruling.  With the federal departments of Labor and Homeland Security mum on when the program will restart, some business owners are growing nervous.  “I’m not going to get too excited right now, but in a couple of months, if it hasn’t been resolved, well, that would be bad,” said Mike Erickson, president and CEO of Alaska Glacier Seafoods in Juneau." - Alaska News Dispatch, Mar. 13, 2015.