On June 1, 2018, the Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) released information on how H-2B applications for temporary employment certification filed by employers on or after July 3, 2018, will be assigned to staff for review. Applications filed on or after that date will be sequentially assigned to analysts based on both the calendar date and time (eastern time zone) on which the applications are received. The receipt time will be measured to the millisecond.

OFLC explained that it continues to experience significant increases in the number of H-2B applications requesting temporary labor certification. Those submissions are generally received on the earliest day employers seeking to obtain visas for their workers under the semi-annual allotments are permitted by regulation to file (i.e., 75 to 90 days before the start date of work), OFLC noted. For example, in the past several second-half semi-annual filing cycles, the overwhelming majority of H-2B applications were received on January 1, which is the earliest date on which an H-2B application may be filed for a period of need beginning on April 1. Because of the intense competition for H-2B visas in recent years, the semi-annual visa allocation, and the regulatory time frames for filing a request for temporary labor certification, stakeholders have also raised questions regarding the earliest time of day on which an application can be submitted to OFLC. To process the significant surge of applications that OFLC expects to receive in a short period of time during the semi-annual visa allotment periods in a more equitable manner and to clarify the time at which an application is received, OFLC will be implementing the new procedures.

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