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Delegation blasts Department of Labor in letter pertaining to H-2B visas

(The Center Square) – Addressing delays affecting labor certification processing for H-2B visas is the focus of a new bipartisan letter sent to the U.S. Department of Labor.

U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., Angus King Jr., I-Maine, and John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., has penned a letter last Friday along with 17 other senators to Department of Labor Acting Secretary Julie Su. They said the delays are “entirely unacceptable” and having a negative effect on seasonal businesses which rely on temporary worker visas to meet product demand.

“We write to express concern about the Department of Labor (DOL)’s failure to process H-2B visa labor certifications in a timely manner,” the senators wrote in the letter. “As you know, many seasonal businesses rely on H-2B visas to meet the demands of their busy season.”

The senators said the delays equate to employees not being able to even begin the visa application process with the Department of Homeland Security, in many cases after the projected starting date of employment.

“We understand that demand for these visas has increased in recent years as seasonal industries face extensive workforce shortages,” the senators wrote. “However, DOL must ensure it is able to meet this increased demand, as its current processes are causing substantial hardship to employers in our states. […] We stand ready to work with you to improve these processes and ensure that DOL is able to meet the needs of our seasonal employers.”

According to a release, extreme delays have hindered employers as the department’s processing of labor certifications has slowed. Current regulations require the department to issue a first action, either a notice of acceptance or notice of deficiency, within seven days of receiving the application. However, this year delays have taken more than 90 days.

According to a release, delays have been experienced with employers filing paperwork with the department between Jan. 1 and Jan. 3, with April 1 as a start date receiving first action notices the third week of April.

According to a release in April, King sent a letter to Su asking for urgency from the Biden administration to expedite the certificate process essential for employers to hire temporary foreign workers. He has also addressed the issue with the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Labor, which directly led to an increase in the number of visas awarded by 65,000.

King, according to a release, has led efforts to address shortages within the H-2B program.

Other signing the letter are Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Joe Manchin, D-W.V.; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Thom Tillis, R-N.C.; Chris Coons, D-Del.; James Lankford, R-Okla.; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I.; Maggie Hassan, D-N.H.; Kevin Cramer, R-N.D.; Cynthia Lummi, R-Wyo.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; James Risch, R-Idaho; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; and Michael Rounds, R-S.D.

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