The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced last week that effective immediately, it will no longer accept or process requests for prevailing wage determinations or applications for labor certification in the H-2B program. This will effectively halt the processing of H-2B visas for the time being.
The announcement came in response to a Florida court’s decision that that the DOL lacks authority under the Immigration and Nationality Act to issue regulations in the H-2B program. Perez v. Perez (N.D. Fla. 2015).
The H-2B visa program allows low-skilled, non-agricultural workers to work in the U.S. in occupations such as landscaping, construction, and resort positions such as room attendant or cook. While most H-2B applicants for the 66,000 visas earmarked for 2015 have already made it through the process, the court’s decision will still prevent the final one-quarter—about 16,500—from working in the U.S. while the government considers a response to the Florida decision.
The Florida court’s decision comes at a time when demand for low-skilled, non-agricultural workers is rising.