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23 November 2018
The Department of Labour's Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently found that the Employment and Training Administration's (ETA's) lack of control over the H-2B applications process has jeopardised businesses that depend on H-2B workers. The OIG investigated this issue after members of Congress expressed concerns over reported delays in the H-2B application process, which allows US employers to hire temporary non-immigrant workers for non-agricultural labour and services. H-2B application processing delays "could prevent employers from obtaining foreign workers by their date of need" or "obtain[ing] US workers to fill those positions", the OIG said.
The OIG noted that the ETA did not evaluate the impact of its overall H-2B process on two other agencies (the Departments of Homeland Security and State) that are part of the overall process, hold staff accountable for meeting internal application processing goals or manage resources appropriately, potentially affecting jobs in numerous industries, such as shrimp and crab, landscaping, housekeeping, construction, amusement parks, forestry and meat and poultry. The OIG review found the ETA's mean time to process applications at prevailing wage was five days more than the internal goal, and at the processing centre it was 41 days over the internal goal. "These delays, particularly in seasonal industries, would have serious adverse effects on business owners and local economies," the OIG said. As a result, the ETA could not demonstrate whether it ensured that employers' needs for temporary foreign labour were being met.
The delays potentially affected up to 148,000 positions and could have had adverse effects on business owners who rely on this labour, whether a foreign labourer or US worker would fill the position, the OIG said. For fiscal year (FY) 2016, for example, the OIG identified about 100,000 positions potentially affected that were not processed timely. In addition, for FY 2017, the OIG found that about 48,000 positions were affected because the ETA did not timely review 36% of the applications (133,985 positions total certified).
The OIG recommended that the deputy assistant secretary for ETA develop policy to ensure that H-2B applications are processed timely, develop a method for tracking and reporting on processing timeliness for H-2B applications and develop a staffing plan to address peak seasons for receipt of H-2B applications. The OIG noted that the principal deputy assistant secretary for employment and training stated that the agency has taken actions to address these recommendations. The OIG noted that the "ETA disagreed with some of our conclusions; however, nothing in their response changed our report".
For further information on this topic please contact Tim Braswell Jr at Fakhoury Law Group PC by telephone (+1 248 643 4900) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). The Fakhoury Law Group PC website can be accessed at www.employmentimmigration.com.
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Tim Braswell Jr