Rep. Tipton Seeks to Resolve H-2A Visa Delay

March 25, 2016

If sheep farmers and ranchers aren't already lambing and shearing, they are busy making preparations. This is clearly an "all hands on deck" time of year as these activities require extra man-power to properly execute. Many of the extra hands relied upon on the larger ranches are those of H-2A sheepherders. This is why it is so frustrating that there is a backlog in the processing of H-2A visas.

"We have been hearing from our members that H-2A visa applications that were submitted timely and in accordance with the DOL regulations are still hung up in the process and workers are in limbo," said American Sheep Industry Association Executive Director Peter Orwick.

Rep. Scott Tipton (Colo.) has taken steps to resolve this issue by sending a letter to Secretary of the Department of Labor Thomas Perez requesting that his department undertake efforts to expedite the processing of the backlog of temporary, non-immigrant worker visa certifications. The delays occurred as a result of technical difficulties with the DOL Office of Foreign Labor Certification's iCERT Visa Portal System.

"Employers were notified of these technical issues on Jan. 27 and, though my office has since been informed that the system is currently operating normally, the DOL made it clear that they would not be making any efforts to expedite backlogged applications," stated Tipton.

Many of the positions employers rely on these visas to fill, such as those covered by the H-2A visas, are subject to strict seasonal requirements - lambing and calving seasons do not conform to the arbitrary schedules of government, he stressed in his letter.

"While I sympathize with the fact that technical difficulties can and do occur, seasonal needs are not flexible, and employers should not be punished for delays that occurred through no fault of their own," said Tipton. "I strongly urge that DOL reconsider its current policy and make every effort to process certification applications as expeditiously as possible."