PERM and H2B Visas – DOL Open forum update from AILA confernce June 17, 2011

It was a mostly sunny day here in San Diego as the AILA conference entered its second Day. Lots of meetings with government officials and several open forums. I will provide a few points from the DOL open forum head by Bill Carlson, Dept. of Labor, Foreign Labor Certification.

This open forum included a summary by the DOL regarding immigration-related filings. The key points of the DOL summary are explained here for the benefit of our readers.

The DOL started the 2011 fiscal year with speedy adjudications of PERM cases, currently they are working on April 2011 cases. As for Audited cases, the current processing time is September 2010. Finally, cases pending Appeal are currently at February 2008. The DOL was able to reduce its previous backlog by almost half, and the goal is to become even more efficient by 2012.

The DOL reports a %63 increase in PERM filings since 2010, an impressive number by itself. This is a sign that employers feel more confident as the job market slowly rebounds. At the same time Mr. Carlson reported a %30 increase in Audits and this number is expected to increase as well. %25 increase in Appeals filed this past year and finally a %40 increase in cases under review.

An interesting update from Mr. Carlson indicates that %25 of the PERM cases filed in the past year were non STEM science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) cases, this means that they were cases that either do not require a degree or a degree with no or little experience.

Also reporting 800-1000 cases being subject to supervised recruitment, %70 of those cases resulted in denials. The increased audits and supervised recruitment is consistent with our experience at our law firm.

The ICERT portal is getting better and most of the problems have been resolved. There are 11,000 icert employers and the website reports 26 Million daily visitors. Not bad for DOL!!
Currently there are less than %12.5 LCA denials in the system as opposed to almost %65 last year. The main 2 reasons for denials these days: 1. FEIN non ability to verify. 2. Issues with the prevailing wage. It is not taking 48 Hours to verify FEIN’s and obtain most LCA certifications.

Lawyers were hoping to receive more answers from the DOL representatives on PERM issues with recruitment, reasons for denials and inconsistency in adjudications. We didn’t get as much as we expected. Hope to report more updates as the conference continues.