WHD Targets Hotel Industry for Compliance with H-2B Visa Program

To ensure compliance with federal wage laws, the Department of Labor (DOL) and its Wage and Hour Division (WHD) are conducting a nationwide initiative to strengthen compliance with the labor provisions of the H-2B temporary visa program in the hotel industry.

whd-releases-new-opinion-lettersThe initiative includes providing compliance assistance tools and information to employers and stakeholders, as well as conducting investigations of employers using this program. A key component of the investigations is ensuring that employers recruit U.S. workers before applying for permission to employ temporary nonimmigrant workers.

“Any employer seeking workers under this program must be ready and willing to hire qualified U.S. applicants first,” said Bryan Jarrett, WHD acting administrator. “This initiative demonstrates our commitment to safeguard American jobs, level the playing field for law-abiding employers, and protect guest workers from being paid less than they are legally owed or otherwise working under substandard conditions.”

This past year, WHD investigations found more than $105 million in back wages for more than 97,000 workers in industries with a high prevalence of H-2B workers, including the hotel industry.

The H-2B nonimmigrant program permits employers to temporarily hire nonimmigrant workers from outside the United States to perform nonagricultural labor or services in the United States. The employment must be of a temporary nature for a limited period of time such as a one-time occurrence, seasonal need, peak load need, or intermittent need. Many hotels use H-2B workers to fill a need for seasonal workers.

Before employers can be approved to request guest workers under the H-2B program, they must file an application with the Department stating that:

  • An insufficient number of U.S. employees are qualified and available to work; and
  • The employment of nonimmigrant, temporary workers will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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