On Monday, the U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued the following announcement regarding the H-2B guestworker visa program:
March 16, 2015. Joint Statement from DOL and DHS on Next Steps for the H-2B Program
On March 4, 2015, the federal district court in the Northern District of Florida vacated the Department of Labor’s (DOL) 2008 H-2B regulations on the ground that DOL lacks authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act to issue regulations in the H-2B program. Perez v. Perez, No. 3:14-cv-682 (N.D. Fla., Mar. 4, 2015). Because this decision vacated the rule and permanently enjoined DOL from enforcing it, DOL was forced to immediately discontinue the processing of applications for temporary labor certification in the H-2B program.
To rectify the regulatory gap that the vacatur has caused, DOL and DHS are working expeditiously to issue a joint Interim Final Rule (IFR). It is the two Departments’ intention to promulgate this rule by April 30, 2015. In addition, DOL will seek to determine whether relief from the Court’s decision may be obtained such that processing can continue during the period of time before an IFR is promulgated.
DOL and DHS recognize the hardship that has resulted from the Court’s decision. That is why the Departments are moving as quickly as possible to issue new regulations that would be consistent with the decision. In so doing, the Departments must be mindful of other court decisions that have invalidated past subregulatory actions in the H-2B and related programs, including the issuance of guidance in the absence of rulemaking.
For updates on the program and further developments, announcements are being posted on the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification’s website accessible through this link: http://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov/