Here we go again.
Turf is receiving reports from landscape companies of unexplained delays in the processing of their petitions for H-2B seasonal guest worker visas. Part of the problem seems to be foot dragging in the issuance of prevailing wage determinations.
Until these are issued, the Department of Labor (DOL) cannot certify the petitions and the U.S. Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS) cannot issue the H-2B visas. Without the visas, of course, guest workers cannot enter the United States legally and begin working.
These latest snafus, of course, lead to the question: Why can’t these applications be processed in a timely matter? The H-2B program is now 26 years old, after all. Why is it that landscape business owners are again waiting for their workers during their busiest time of the year?
Last spring was a disaster for many companies because of unanticipated delays in the H-2B visa process. This spring is shaping up to be no better—and this at a time when the national unemployment rate is hovering just below 5 percent, essentially full employment.
Over the past several years, many small landscape and lawn service companies abandoned H-2B because of these hassles and the program’s rising costs—recruiting and agents costs, government fees and prevailing wage rules—to name a few. Many other property management companies, including several of the industry’s largest companies, still count on these seasonal workers. Should they?
While there are no indications from Washington, D.C., the H-2B visa program is going to be scuttled anytime soon, you almost have to wonder at what point it becomes too difficult, too frustrating, too unpredictable and, perhaps, too expensive for landscape companies to tolerate any longer.
Read more: Why We Play the H-2B Numbers Game