H2-B Program Fixed by Congress, but Thwarted by Bureaucracy
Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Posted by: Gregg Robertson
WASHINGTON, D.C. –Thanks to the hard work of our national associations, AmericanHort and the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP), language providing H2B relief was included in the federal FY 2015-2016 omnibus spending bill. President Obama signed that bill into law on December 18th last year.
Although the reforms in the bill will last only for nine months, provisions in the bill include many of the H2B reforms that the green industry had been seeking for the past several years, plus some more urgent reforms needed in light of the recently issued H2B regulations. The provisions include:
- Exempts H-2B returning workers from the 66,000 annual cap;
- Addresses H-2B wages and allow the use of private wage surveys, which were not allowed under the 2015 final H-2B wage rule;
- Clearly defines seasonal as 10 months, as opposed to the 9 months in the new interim final H-2B comprehensive rule;
- Prevents DOL from implementing the provisions of the interim final rule (IFR) related to corresponding employment and the three-quarters guarantee; and
- Prevents DOL from implementing the new burdensome DOL enforcement scheme in the IFR related to audits and Certifying Officer (CO) assisted recruitment.
Since these provisions are in force for only nine months, many fear that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) will drag its feet in implementing the new provisions and try to run out the clock until September 30. Already there is evidence that this is happening.
Forward Your Stories to AmericanHort!
AmericanHort has asked H2-B users to document anecdotal evidence of bureaucratic delays and to forward them on to them. They are asking for business-level hardships — dollar losses, contracts that will have to be passed on, American workers whose jobs may be in jeopardy, etc. Your stories should be directed to Craig Regelbrugge or Davi Bowen via email, no later than February 5, 2016!