Interim Final Rule Affects H-2B Job Order Processing

From: USADNEWS Volume X, Issue 1 January/February 2016

The changes to the H-2B regulations that went into effect in the Interim Final Rule on April 29, 2015, have affected how job orders are processed with the local State Workforce Agencies (SWAs). The regulations now require the following:

  • Employer must submit the job order to the SWA at the same time they submit the application for temporary employment certification, and submit a copy of the job order to the Chicago National Processing Center (NPC), no more than 90 calendar days and no fewer than 75 calendar days before the employer’s date of need. The job order must remain open until 21 days before the date of need.
  • Recruitment must be conducted after the application is accepted for processing. Recruitment must be conducted within 14 days from date of the Notice of Acceptance.
  • Applicants must be directed to apply at the nearest SWA office, as well as directly to the employer.

Many SWAs have amended their procedures for how employers must submit a job order related to an H-2B application, in order to comply with the new regulations. For instance, some states still allow submission through their online system, whereas other states now require the employer to complete and submit a separate form by email. It is important to confirm with each state what their specific submission requirements are. Once the SWA has received the job order, they will coordinate with the NPC in Chicago and await approval from the national office. The employer may not begin recruitment until the NPC approves the application.

Because of the influx of job orders being submitted to one centralized office, the NPC is currently dealing with a backlog of applications that are pending approval. The Department of Labor (DOL) also announced in January that it has seen a 79% increase in H-2B applications from those submitted during the previous filing season. According to the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC), “The simultaneous impact of the requirement to change procedures as the result of the 2016 DOL Appropriations Act, and the major increase in the number of applications being filed, has resulted in longer processing times in the H-2B program.”