The Department of Labor website crashed within the first five minutes of opening for the semi-annual H-2B certification process on Jan. 1, 2019. The following day, the iCERT website for application processing issued an citing it was due to an unprecedented demand for H-2B certifications with more than 97,800 workers requested in pending applications for the 33,000 available visas.
According to the statement, this is more than 30 times the user demand on the iCERT system compared to last year on Jan. 1, 2018. The iCERT system for application processing reopened at 2 p.m. EST on Monday, Jan. 7, 2019.
This high volume of applicants means that many landscape companies will not get the guaranteed labor they need for operating this year. In an on the St. Louis Post-Dispatch website, Matthew Endres, owner of Pinnacle Lawn Care and Outdoor Aesthetics in St. Louis, says that the website crash that took place earlier this week is just one step in a larger problem. He says that there needs to be system reform for the entire program.
According to the article, Endres said he went to his wife’s work at a law firm on New Year’s Eve to secure a fast online connection in an effort to be at the top of the list. He was applying for 10 seasonal workers and says he thought he was going to have a panic attack when the system crashed.
Caseyville, Illinois-based landscape company, Munie Greencare Professionals, ran into the same issue when requesting its 160 seasonal workers. The company has locations in nine states and employs 400 people during peak seasons.
Erin Barr, director of human resources for Munie, says that millions of dollars are at stake for Munie. Barr says that they are looking at losing customer contracts without these workers and that the uncertainty of securing workers through the program makes it difficult to business plan.