UPDATE- On March 18, the federal district court in the Northern District of Florida issued an order effectively permitting DOL to immediately restart its processing of H-2B applications under the 2008 rule and to continue processing applications under that rule through April 15.
The DOL has said it will do just that.
Under the terms of the court's March 18 order, any application for certification or prevailing wage determination that has not completed DOL processing by the time the stay ends as of April 16 may no longer be processed under the 2008 H-2B rule.
UPDATE- The Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security are working on an interim rule that would get the H-2B program rolling again by the end of April. READ MORE
Several green industry leaders are weighing in on this potential crisis.
“The Department of Labor’s decision was no small thing,” said Kris Kiser, CEO and President of the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute. “The H-2B program is critical to the workforce needs of many U.S. industries – including ours.”
Sabeena Hickman, CEO of the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), added, “Our industry depends on seasonal, temporary workers. Without the H-2B program, fully up and running, our industry will be immediately – and negatively – impacted.”
Ralph Egües, Executive Director of the National Hispanic Landscape Alliance (NHLA), remarked, "Today more than 500,000 US Hispanics are employed in the landscape industry, many in supervisory, managerial, and administrative roles made possible by the yearly hiring of foreign workers needed to meet seasonal demand. Since 2008, DOL has attempted to burden the H-2B program with rules that make it a more expensive and less predictable option for employers, placing the jobs of many US Hispanics at risk."
“The H-2B program is of utmost urgency,” said Richard Lawhun, President and CEO of the North American Equipment Dealers Association (NAEDA). “There is a short window of time for our dealers of outdoor power equipment and their customers to receive workers for a season which starts NOW.”
As of March 5, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) is temporarily suspending the processing of Form I-129 H-2B petitions for temporary non-agricultural workers while the government considers the appropriate response to the court order entered March 4, 2015, in Perez v. Perez, No. 3:14-cv-682 (N.D. Florida, Mar. 4, 2015).
The decision states that the Department of Labor lacks authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act to issue regulations in the H-2B program. Due to this decision, starting March 4, the Department of Labor (DOL) is no longer accepting or processing requests for prevailing wage determinations or applications for temporary labor certifications in the H-2B program. DOL is considering its options in light of the court’s decision. (See DOL Office of Foreign Labor Certification for more details.)
Because H-2B petitions require temporary labor certifications issued by DOL, USCIS has also temporarily suspended adjudication of H-2B petitions. USCIS will continue adjudicating H-2B petitions for non-agricultural temporary workers on Guam if the petitions are accompanied by temporary labor certifications issued by the Guam Department of Labor.
Starting March 6, 2015, USCIS has also suspended premium processing for all H-2B petitions until further notice. If a petitioner has already filed H-2B petitions using the premium processing service and the agency did not act on the case within the 15-calendar-day period, USCIS will issue a refund.
Please continue to check www.uscis.gov for updates.