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In Limbo: A Court Ruling on Work Visas Affects Colorado Resorts

March 12, 2015

Colorado tourismColorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet is pressing the Department of Labor and Department of Homeland Security to resume processing H-2B visa requests as quickly as possible. The H-2B visa program allows hundreds of Colorado businesses to fill seasonal jobs.

The visa program was suspended by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services following a federal court ruling that the Department of Labor does not have the legal authority to make regulations for the program’s labor certification requirements.

“Hundreds of Colorado businesses rely on this program to fill their seasonal jobs, particularly in our tourism and outdoor recreation industries,” Bennet said. “Without these workers, communities across our state will suffer just as they are gearing up for another active summer. It’s imperative that we find the best path forward so employers can fill these jobs.”

Full Text of Bennet’s Letter:

March 12, 2015

Dear Secretaries Perez and Johnson:

I write to express my concerns regarding U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services’ decision to suspend the processing of H-2B visa requests due to a recent court decision that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) does not have explicit statutory authority over the visa program’s labor certification requirements. 

Over 300 Colorado businesses rely on the H-2B visa program to hire temporary non-agricultural workers for seasonal jobs that are vital to Colorado’s economy. These include positions in various industries, including recreation and hospitality, mining and construction, and landscaping services. The immediate halt of this program has left employers in limbo as they prepare to welcome tourists from across the country during the spring and summer months.

I urge you to work as expeditiously as possible to determine the best path forward so that employers can fill these seasonal positions.  A potential solution may be for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to issue delegation authority for H-2B visas to DOL, or for DHS and DOL to issue joint H-2B regulations.  Meanwhile, I will work with my colleagues in the U.S. Senate to find an alternative solution, including the possibility of granting DOL explicit statutory authority over the H-2B program.

Please keep me updated once you have determined how to resolve this issue.

Sincerely,

Michael F. Bennet
U.S. Senator

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