Future Rule Tightening by the U.S. Department of Labor

The U.S. immigration system is constantly changing. At a recent stakeholders meeting, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced several upcoming changes to the Labor Certification and Labor Condition Application process.

Expect More PERM Audits
The DOL announced that with Backlog Elimination Centers (BECs) closing, the DOL will now be now focusing its resources on parts of the PERM regulations that were not focused on earlier, including audits and supervised recruitment. Since April 2007, Immigration attorneys have seen a spike in PERM audits by the DOL. It looks like Audits are going to be commonplace from now on. DOL announced that both targeted and random PERM audits will continue. The DOL stated that the 60 to 90 day timeframe discussed in the preamble to the PERM regulation is not binding and is irrelevant if there is an audit. Therefore, once a case has gone into audit, it will most likely not be adjudicated within the 60 to 90 timeframe.

As of July 15th, the DOL was working on cases that have not been audited with a priority date of April 2008. Currently, there is only one Audit queue. The DOL does not maintain separate queues for random and targeted audits. As of Mid July, DOL was working on audited cases with Priority dates of March 2007.

H-1B LCAs will be scrutinized more closely
The DOL also stated that Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) associated with the H-1B filing process will be scrutinized more closely beginning this fall. Currently LCAs are approved within a matter of seconds once they are applied for through the DOL’s online application system. The DOL expects such applications to take up to 7 days to be reviewed and certified by the DOL. If alternate wage surveys are submitted with the LCAs, the certification times would be even longer. Therefore, the days of starting a new H-1B petition in a couple of days pursuant to a change in employer will soon come to an end.

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