DOL Releases Guidance for Those Affected by Recent Hurricanes

From: USADNEWS Volume XI, Issue 8

The Department of Labor (DOL) confirmed to the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) on September 18, 2017 that it is currently working on releasing guidance for those affected by Hurricane Irma.

The DOL previously released guidance in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) will allow for extensions of response deadlines for employers in areas affected by that storm. OFLC acknowledges that delayed responses may occur both as a result of the damages from the storm as well as from preparations for the storm in the week preceding its impact. Consequently, for any audit requests, requests for additional information, requests for reconsideration, employer appeals, and similar requests with deadlines that fall during the period from August 25, 2017 until December 1, 2017, the employer’s response will be considered timely if received by December 1, 2017. These extensions apply even if the employer, or the employer’s attorney or agent, has relocated outside of the affected area as a result of the storm.

OFLC is also extending the 180-day recruitment validity period for permanent labor certification (PERM) applications. As long as recruitment was begun within 180 days prior to Hurricane Harvey (recruitment start date of February 26, 2017 or later), employers or their attorneys who are located in a disaster area will have until December 1, 2017, to file their PERM application. To take advantage of this extension, an employer must notify the Atlanta National Processing Center by either uploading a signed letter of explanation to the case file in the PERM system or by emailing the signed letter to [email protected].

H-2A or H-2B employers may be eligible to terminate work to be performed under an existing contract before the end date of work under the “contract impossibility” provisions found in the regulations at 20 C.F.R. § 655.122(o) for H-2A cases and 20 C.F.R. § 655.20(g) for H-2B cases. Employers may also be eligible to utilize emergency filing procedures in order to file closer to their start date of need than is permitted under normal processing. OFLC is using the list of counties and parishes as designated by FEMA to determine disaster areas eligible for deadline and filing extensions. Areas that have been hardest hit may be allowed additional extensions.

National Processing Centers will not send correspondence by mail to zip codes in the affected regions where there is either no mail service or partial mail service, as listed on the U.S. Postal Service website. OFLC will continue processing cases to the extent that is possible, and will use existing contact information to reach employers or their representatives. OFLC recommends that employers proactively provide any updated contact information to the appropriate processing center listed below. OFLC will continue to contact employers and their representatives by email, and where internet and cellular coverage are interrupted, will allow for additional response time. Point of contact changes are being accepted and may be made to all pending applications, but please note that any changes to work site locations may change key elements of an application, such as the prevailing wage rate.

Any questions, requests for extensions, changes of address or other contact info should be submitted to the following offices:

  • OFLC Chicago National Processing Center for issues related to H-2A Temporary Agriculture, H-2B Temporary Non-Agriculture, or H-1B Specialty Occupations Email: [email protected] Subject: Hurricane Harvey or Phone: (312) 886-8000
  • OFLC National Prevailing Wage Center for issues related to the issuance of a prevailing wage determination (NOTE: The prevailing wage validity period will not be changed or extended) Email: [email protected] Subject: Hurricane Harvey or Phone: (202) 693-8200
  • OFLC Atlanta National Processing Center for issues related to Permanent Labor Certification (PERM) Email: [email protected] Subject: Hurricane Harvey or Phone: (404) 893-0101