Issue Brief: H-2B relief, sort of

March 8, 2016 -  By

MissyHenriksen_nalpIn December, Congress authorized an omnibus spending bill, which provided H-2B relief for industries that rely on guest workers.

Through Sept. 30 the bill exempts H-2B returning workers from the 66,000 annual cap; addresses H-2B wages and allows the use of private wage surveys; clearly defines “seasonal” as 10 months; and prevents the Department of Labor (DOL) from implementing the provisions of the interim final rule related to corresponding workers and the “3/4 guarantee,” requiring a set number of hours per week.

As of press time, federal agencies haven’t made these program modifications. In short, the old paperwork and process guidelines do not allow for the new changes, complicating an already confusing, burdensome application process. The primary implementation challenges include:

      • Continued processing delays. DOL is supposed to act within seven days of receiving submissions, but some companies are waiting for a response from DOL after several weeks.
      • No assurance on how long DOL will take to review wage surveys. It’s still taking 60 or more days for companies to receive prevailing wage determinations.
      • Need for DOL to allow applications less than 60 days on an “emergency basis;” and
      • Inaccurate language on the labor certification form and the workers’ rights poster that employers are required to hang on-site.

None of these delays is acceptable. NALP will continue to work to ensure the new provisions are enacted as outlined in the omnibus bill and for longer term solutions to the guest-worker program.

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