H-2B Visa Demand Crashes Application Portal
Craig Regelbrugge & Laurie Flanagan*
Due to capacity issues and the huge H-2B filing volume, the Department of Labor’s (DOL) iCERT online filing system crashed right after midnight on New Years Day, preventing H-2B filing for the second half of the fiscal year, as well as H-2A and other labor certification application filing. According to the DOL, “the U.S. Department of Labor iCERT system had an unprecedented demand for H-2B certifications with more than 97,800 workers requested in pending applications for 33,000 visas.” Of course, one might wonder how DOL determined the actual demand when the system crashed almost immediately.
In a conference call on January 4, officials announced that DOL has greatly increased system servers and capacity. The Department planned to re-open iCERT filing on Monday, January 7 at 2:00 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST). An additional “captcha” security feature has also been added.
DOL officials asked that employers with non-H-2B actions refrain from accessing iCERT prior to 3pm EST on Monday, January 7. They also mentioned that emergency H-2A filing procedures are in place to address the needs of H-2A employers who could not file 45 days before their date of need due to the iCERT shutdown. Finally, when using the system, DOL staff recommends that filers do not use their browser’s “back” button or refresh the page. Pages should only be reloaded if an error message is received.
The DOL is accepting questions about iCERT filing via two email addresses: H2Aombudsman@dol.gov and H2Bombudsman@dol.gov. DOL will continue to post responses to frequently asked questions on its webpage.
*Laurie-Ann Flanagan is Executive Vice President at DCLRS with over 20 years of experience in the federal legislative and regulatory process. Laurie and DCLRS work closely with AmericanHort on a variety of issues.