WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King announced today that the U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) has filed a motion to stay the order which led to the suspended processing of H-2B visas. The visa application process was put on hold following a judgment from a U.S. District court in Florida against USDOL earlier this month.
H-2B visas, which certify immigrants to work temporarily in the United States, are heavily relied upon in Maine’s many tourism communities that are in need of seasonal, temporary workers. Without these employees, the current situation could have a detrimental effect on Maine’s economy in the upcoming heavy tourism season.
If granted, the stay would allow the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and USDOL to resume the processing of H-2B visas until April 15, 2015 while the agencies work to finalize an emergency rule to address the Court’s decision. In their request, USDOL conveyed the urgent need for immediately reinstating visa processing: “The complete hiatus of the H-2B program creates an emergency situation for employers that require H-2B nonimmigrants in the absence of available United States workers. By statutory and regulatory design, many employers using the H-2B program have seasonal or peakload demand for workers, and most employers currently awaiting labor certificates will require a supplemental workforce, in the absence of United States workers, to address an imminent seasonal demand.”
“We are encouraged that the Department of Labor understands that this is truly an emergency situation,” said Senators Collins and King. “Countless Maine employers rely on H-2B workers for the success of their businesses during the busiest time of the year. We continue to urge an expedient and permanent solution to this problem which could have severe economic repercussions not only in Maine, but nationwide.”
This action from USDOL follows a letter from U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Angus King last week which urged the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and USDOL to resume the processing of H-2B visas immediately. Senators Collins and King also joined a bipartisan group of Senators in signing letters to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez regarding this same issue.