DOL’s Hurricane Florence Guidance

Hurricane Florence looms over North Carolina on September 14, 2018.

Credit: NOAA

The Disaster that was Hurricane Florence

Late last week, Hurricane Florence made landfall near Wilmington, N.C. It then proceeded to dump trillions of gallons of water on the Carolinas as it very slowly worked its way inland and north in a hook-like path. This major, slow-moving storm is even still a developing disaster, and we likely won’t know the full scope of its impact for months.

With many employers and attorneys residing in the affected areas, the Department of Labor understands that Hurricane Florence will make strict adherence to their deadlines difficult; therefore, it has released guidance and lengthened some deadlines for those affected applicants and petitioners to still respond in a timely fashion to the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC).

The OFLC is granting extension for delays in response that resulted from storm conditions. This applies to those both delayed during the storm and in preparation for the storm.

Criteria for Guidance

This Guidance will apply to those employers and attorneys who reside in counties that FEMA designated major disasters areas.

FEMA’s major disaster declarations may be amended or newly declared. It is therefore advisable that attorneys and employers, who may be affected but as of yet have not been, should regularly check with FEMA for any updates in status. Likewise, the OFLC may even further extend these deadlines for the hardest hit areas as the disaster continues to develop.

If you do not live in a major-disaster designated county, you may still be eligible for a deadline extension. If you believe that Hurricane Florence negatively impacted your ability to properly file documents, the OFLC will consider requests for extensions in regions that were otherwise affected by Hurricane Florence on a case-by-case basis.


The OFLC has specified that if a deadline falls between September 14, 2018, and December 13, 2018, for those affected by the storm, it will consider documents received by December 13 by the appropriate Center timely. Even if you have left the disaster zone, these extensions will apply for you.

For PERM applications, the OFLC is extending the usual 180-day limit for recruitment efforts prior to filing a permanent labor certification application by 90 days. The recruitment must have started by March 8, 2018, and the filing must occur no later than December 13, 2018.

Employers who are filing H-2A and H-2B have two recourses if they have been affected by Hurricane Florence. First, they may terminate contracted work earlier than the specified end date due to contract impossibility. They may also file closer to the proposed start date of the contract than is generally permitted. Employers must request these allowances from the Chicago National Processing Center. The certifying officer will grant allowances based on the reason and if the work is within the disaster area.

For More Information

Read DOL’s Guidance. It includes pertinent contact information for those needing to request extensions and update their mailing addresses with the OFLC.

This blog post does not serve as legal advice and does not establish any client-attorney privilege. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact our legal team directly.

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This information comes from the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA Doc. No. 18091733).

Categories: Immigration News