US Department of Labor is charged with protecting the labor market and investigation and enforcement activities related to that.

DOL Issues Notice on Prevailing Wage Rates for Certain H-2A Occupations

The Department has published a notice in the Federal Register establishing new prevailing wage rates for certain occupations processed under H-2A special procedures. The wage rates established by this Federal Register notice apply only to the following activities: open range production of livestock, itinerant animal shearing, sheepherding and goatherding, and custom combine operations. To read the Federal Register notice please click here.

DOL Releases Report On Foreign Labor Certification for 2010-2011

The 2011 Annual Report presents information on the Prevailing Wage Determination Process, Permanent Labor Certification and Temporary Nonimmigrant Labor Certification for FY 2011. The report also contains State Employment-Based Labor Certification Profiles, information on STEM-related occupations in the labor certification programs, H-2A Agricultural Certification Statistics, and Country Employment-Based Immigration Profiles. Click the here to view the Annual Report.

Survey Methodology–Frequently Used Alternate Surveys

Question details

Rather than requiring that the full survey methodology be submitted with every prevailing wage request, can DOL recognize that certain surveys (i.e., Towers Watson, Radford, CHIPS One) employ a statistically valid methodology, and only require documentation that supports the specific wage request, such as the wage, level, location, and job description for the requested job opportunity?

DOL indicates that methodology can change within a survey among different occupations, so it is necessary for DOL to receive full survey methodology with each prevailing wage request, even for a commonly used alternate wage survey.

Rejection of Alternate Wage Surveys that are Incomplete or Lack Information

Question details

Applicants have reported frequent rejections of alternate wage surveys that have been submitted to the prevailing wage unit in support of the ETA 9141. Several of these rejections have not been due to a specific deficiency of the survey or because the survey was not a match to the position, but because not all leveling information was submitted, or because the submitted survey data was incomplete. Rather than rejecting the survey due to missing survey information, could the National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC) instead issue a request for the missing information, so that employers are able to correct the problem, rather than have to submit a new wage request and wait two months for a decision?

DOL indicates that it does issue a Request for Information when possible, but relies on employers and attorneys to provide complete information regarding alternate wage surveys to allow the wage determination to be based upon that survey.

Audits about Telecommuting

Question details

Recently, DOL has begun to issue audits with the following language: “The foreign worker listed on the ETA 9089 resides in [residence location], section H of the 9089 provides [work location] as the worksite. Has DOL explained how the foreign worker performs the job duties of the job opportunity given the distance between [residence location] and [work location].Is the employee permitted and/or expected to perform the duties of the job opportunity listed on ETA 9089 from his residence and/or his place of choosing?” In many cases, the two locations are quite close and are clearly within a normal commuting distance (e.g. Atlanta and Marietta,
Georgia – distance approximately 20 miles; Palisades Park and Parsippany, New Jersey – distance approximately 30 miles). In one case, the work and residence locations were less than two miles apart. Has DOL considered conducting an initial review of the distance between the residence location and work location before issuing the audit?

DOL indicates that this kind of question on an audit where the work location and residence location are close together is likely a training issue. DOL does, however, believe that it is appropriate to inquire about this kind of issue where it is unclear why the residential address and the work address are far apart from one another, and does issue audits on that basis where appropriate.

Follow up on PERM Account Registration

Question details

Applicants often have difficulty getting a response from the various email help desks (,, etc.) beyond a boilerplate acknowledgement of the inquiry. This lack of substantive response can be particularly challenging when an employer is trying to create a new PERM filing account, or if the employer’s contact is locked out of their online PERM account. Has DOL provided any details on how e-mail inquiries are handled by each of the help desks? Does DOL have required service response times? Would it be possible for a dedicated e-mail to be created to follow-up on specific matters, such as PERM account registration problems? As an example, USCIS has a dedicated follow-up e-mail for service requests, but this e-mail can only be used after a service request is made, and after a set period of time goes by without a response.

DOL indicates that it has completed its project to address “straggler” cases and has returned staff to normal job duties. This may help to improve timeliness of responses from DOL on these kinds of issues.

Duplicate PERM Certifications

Question details

Several people have reported receiving two certifications of the same PERM application, with different validity dates. In most (but not all) of these cases, when the case was first approved, no hard copy ETA 9089 was received by the attorney in the mail. When the case was “recertified,” a hard copy 9089 was generated. Has DOL identified what caused these duplicate approvals? Has DOL also communicated this problem to USCIS, as this could impact processing of an I-140 petition that was filed with a request that USCIS contact DOL to obtain a “duplicate” certification?

DOL indicates that there has been at least one case where the I-140 was approved by USCIS despite issuance of a “duplicate” certification with different dates. In that case, the DOL and USCIS were advised of the duplicate certification issue prior to the I-140 being approved.

Bona Fide Reasons for Withdrawal during Supervised Recruitment (SR)

Question details

Employers may choose to withdraw cases undergoing SR for many reasons, such as the employee terminating his employment, the employee obtaining a green card through other means (such as marriage), or the costs of the required recruitment. In determining any employer-wide consequences of withdrawal during the SR process, does DOL consider the explanation as to why the SR case is being withdrawn? How can an employer best provide an explanation why the SR case is being withdrawn?

DOL indicates that it does not monitor or track particular reasons for withdrawal. DOL does, however, pay attention to the rate of withdrawal both for individual employers and overall. The withdrawal rate has decreased, but at one point was more than 10%. Such a high rate of withdrawal caused DOL concern.

Consolidation of Identical Cases for Supervised Recruitment

Question details

DOL has indicated that it would make sense to consolidate recruitment for Supervised Recruitment (SR) cases that are identical. Has DOL made any progress on publishing a standard that can be followed to consolidate recruitment for SR?

DOL has indicated that it is generally not opposed to consolidation of recruitment efforts in appropriate cases, and a request can be made to the SR processing e-mail box for consolidation. Even where cases are consolidated for recruitment, however, DOL will still require individual recruitment reports for each SR application.

Processing Times or Delays in Supervised Recruitment (SR)

Question details

The processing of supervised recruitment cases is still extremely slow. Cases filed directly into supervised recruitment in January and February 2012 have still not received the initial communication from DOL or any recruitment instructions. Based on reports, it appears that DOL is not following FIFO (first in, first out)on SR cases, as there are SR cases with priority dates ranging from May 2011 to October 2011, and draft ads/ad corrections have been submitted as early as February 2012 and as late as July 2012. Has DOL provided details on SR processing dates and times?

DOL indicates that it expects to see a significant increase in the speed of processing of SR cases as well as cases under audit. Staff members who normally work on SR cases were temporarily reassigned to identify and process “straggler” cases. That project has been completed as of October 1, 2012, and DOL has moved those staff members back to their normal work. This should result in much faster processing of both SR and audit cases.