The U.S. Department of Labor has announced changes to its procedures for processing H-2B applications for temporary labor certification.

Because of the intense competition for H-2B visas in recent years, the DOL's technology and available staff resources have been challenged to handle the increasingly large volume of H-2B applications filed on Jan. 1 each year.

As a result of stakeholder comments and the most recent filing period in which the iCERT electronic filing system experienced a service disruption due to the large volume of system user requests, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification reassessed its procedures for processing H-2B applications.

OFLC announced Feb. 26 that all H-2B applications filed on or after July 3, 2019, will be randomly ordered for processing based on the date of filing and the start date of work requested.

OFLC will randomly order and assign for processing all the H-2B applications requesting the earliest start date of work permitted under the semi-annual visa allocation (i.e., Oct. 1 or April 1) and filed during the first three calendar days of the regulatory time period for filing H-2B applications.

Once first actions are issued, OFLC will randomly assign for processing all other H-2B applications filed on a single calendar day.

The DOL believes these procedural changes will provide for fairer and more orderly assignment and review of applications.

H-2B Visa Program

The H-2B visa program allows U.S. employers or U.S. agents who meet specific regulatory requirements to bring foreign nationals to the United States to fill temporary nonagricultural jobs.

The employment must be of a temporary nature for a limited period of time such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal need, peakload need, or intermittent need.

H-2B workers serve in a variety of industries, including hospitality, construction, maintenance, landscaping, and retail.

Comment Period

OFLC is seeking comments on the procedural changes for a period of 30 calendar days from the date that the notice is published in the Federal Register.

Interested stakeholders may submit comments via email or regular mail to Thomas M. Dowd, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration, U.S. Department of Labor, Box PPII 12-200, 200 Constitution Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20210.

OFLC will review all comments received, make any changes it determines are appropriate, and issue a final announcement before July 3, 2019.

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