In February, the Department of Labor issued final regulations changing the rules for employers who use the H-2B visa program to sponsor temporary workers. The new rules were to go in effect on April 27, 2012. On Thursday, a Federal judge issued a temporary order blocking the new H-2B rules.
In Thursday’s ruling, US District Court Judge Margaret C. Rodgers said the department “acknowledges that it has no express congressional grant of authority to engage in legislative rule making under the H-2B program and that such authority was vested instead in the secretary of theDepartment of Homeland Security.”
The new H-2B visa regulations were criticized by small business owners who argued the scheme will make labor costs prohibitively expensive and the H-2B visa program unusable. The rules would:
- Require employers to complete a complex registration process to substantiate the need for temporary workers
- Reduce the length of employment from ten to nine months Require the filing of job orders, extensive domestic recruitment and an application for a temporary labor certification
- Require the employer to pay round-trip airfare and subsistence costs for H-2B employees as well as U.S. employees performing similar work
The parties now have 60 days to file motions for summary judgement, and the H-2B visa program will remain in limbo for several months.