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Dept. of Labor Proposed PERM Regulations

Expediting Green Card Processing

The process for obtaining a permanent labor certification has been criticized as being complicated, time consuming and requiring the expenditure of considerable resources by employers, SWA’s and the Federal Government. It can take up to two years or more to complete the process for applications that are filed under the basic process and do not utilize the more streamlined reduction in recruitment (RIR) process.

The reduction in recruitment process allows employers that request RIR processing to conduct recruitment before filing their applications and these applications are evaluated on the basis of such recruitment.

The redesigned system we envision would require employers to conduct recruitment before filing their applications. Employers would be required to conduct both mandatory and alternative recruitment steps. The alternative steps would be chosen by the employer from a list of additional recruitment steps in the regulations. The employer would not be required to submit any documentation with its application, but would be expected to have assembled supporting documentation specified in the regulations and would be required to provide it in the event its application is selected for audit.

Employers would be required to submit their applications on forms designed for automated processing to minimize manual intervention to an ETA application processing center for automated screening and processing.

After an application has been determined to be acceptable for filing, an automated system would review it based upon various selection criteria that would allow applications to be identified for potential audits before determinations could be made. In addition, some applications would be randomly selected as a quality control measure for an audit without regard to the results of the computer analysis. A complete application would consist of two forms. An Application for Permanent Labor Certification form (ETA Form 9089) and a Prevailing Wage Determination Request (PWDR) form (ETA Form 9088). The application form would require the employer to respond to 56 items. The majority of the items on the application form would consist of attestations which would require the employer to do no more than check ‘‘yes’’, ‘‘no’’, or ‘‘NA’’ (not applicable) as a response. These attestations and other information required by the application form elicit information similar to that required by the current labor certification process. For example, the employer will have to attest to, such items as: whether the employer provided notice of the application to the bargaining representative or its employees; whether the alien beneficiary gained any of the qualifying experience with the employer; whether the alien is currently employed by the employer; whether a foreign language requirement is required to perform the job duties; and whether the U.S.

applicants were rejected solely for lawful job related reasons. (The term ‘‘applicant’’ is defined at § 656.3 as an U.S. worker who is applying for a job opportunity for which an employer has filed an Application for Permanent Labor Certification (ETA Form 9089). The term ‘‘U.S. Worker’’ is also defined at § 656.3.) The wage offered on the application form would be required to be to equal to or greater than the prevailing wage determination entered by the SWA on the PWDR form described below. Comments are requested on ETA forms 9088 and 9089 which are published at the end of this NPRM.

The application form, however, would not require the employer to provide a job description, or detailed job requirements. The job description and job requirements would be entered on the PWDR form, which the employer would be required to submit to the SWA for a prevailing wage determination. The SWA would enter its prevailing wage determination on the form and return it to the employer with its endorsement. The employer would be required to submit both forms to an ETA servicing office for processing and a determination.

The employer would not be required to provide any supporting documentation with its application but would be required to furnish supporting documentation to support the attestations and other information provided on the form if the application was selected for an audit. The standards used in adjudicating applications under the new system would be substantially the same as those used in arriving at a determination in the current system.

The determination would still be based on: whether the employer has met the requirements of the regulations; whether there are insufficient workers who are able, willing, qualified and available; and whether the employment of the alien will have an adverse effect on the wages and working conditions of U.S. workers similarly employed. SWA’s would no longer be the intake point for submission of applications for permanent alien employment certification and would not be required to be the source of recruitment and referral of U.S. workers as they are in the present system. The required role of SWA’s in the redesigned permanent labor certification process would be limited to providing prevailing wage determinations (PWD). Employers would be required to submit a PWDR form to SWA’s to obtain a PWD before filing their applications with an ETA application processing center.

The SWA’s would, as they do under the current process, evaluate the particulars of the employer’s job offer, such as the job duties and requirements for the position and the geographic area in which the job is located, to arrive at a PWD.

The combination of prefiling recruitment, automated processing of applications, and elimination of the SWA’s’ required role in the recruitment and referral of U.S. workers would yield a large reduction in the average time needed to process labor certification applications and would also eliminate the need to institute special, resource intensive efforts to reduce backlogs which have been a recurring problem. The proposed labor certification application and PWDR have been designed to be machine readable or directly completed in a web-based environment. Initially, depending upon whether or not a processing fee is mplemented, applications will be on forms which can be submitted by facsimile transmission or by mail and will be subject to an initial acceptability check to determine whether the application can be processed. If a fee for processing the application is required, all applications will have to be submitted by mail. (However, as indicated in section IV.E, of the preamble below, the Department cannot promulgate and implement a fee charging rule until Congress passes the necessary authorizing legislation.) In the long-term, ETA will be exploring the possibility of further automating the process so thatapplications and PWDR’s may be submitted electronically to an application processing center whether or not a fee is required to be submitted with an application.

After an application, including the PWDR, has been determined to be acceptable for filing, a computer system will review the application based upon various selection criteria that will allow more problematic applications to be identified for audit. Additionally, we anticipate that some applications will be randomly selected for an audit without regard to the results of the computer analysis as a quality control measure. If an audit has not been triggered by the information provided on the application or because of a random selection, the application will be certified and returned to the employer. The employer may then submit the certified application to the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in support of an employment-based I–140 petition.

We anticipate that if an application is not selected for an audit, an employer will have a computer-generated decision within 21 calendar days of the date the application was initially filed. If an application is selected for an audit, the employer will be notified and required to submit, in a timely manner, documentation specified in the regulations to verify the information stated in or attested to on the application. Upon timely receipt of an employer’s audit documentation, the application will be distributed to the appropriate ETA regional office where it will be reviewed by the regional Certifying Officer.

After an audit has been completed, the proposed rule provides that the Certifying Officer can certify the application; deny the application; or order supervised recruitment. If the audit documentation is complete and consistent with the employer’s statements and attestations contained in the application, the application will be certified and returned to the employer.

If the audit documentation is incomplete, is inconsistent with the employer’s statements and/or attestations contained in the application, or if the application is otherwise deficient in some material respect, the application will be denied and a notification of denial with the reasons therefor will be issued to the employer. If an application is denied, the employer will be able to request review of the Certifying Officer’s

decision by the Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals (Board or BALCA). Additionally, on any application selected for an audit, the regional Certifying Officer will have the authority to request additional information before making a final determination or order supervised recruitment for the employer’s job opportunity in any case where questions arise regarding the adequacy of the employer’s test of the labor market. The supervised recruitment that may be required by the regional Certifying Officer, is similar to the current non-RIR regulatory recruitment scheme under the current basic process which requires placement of an advertisement in conjunction with a 30-day job order by the employer. The recruitment, however, will be supervised by ETA regional offices instead of the SWA’s. At the completion of the supervised recruitment efforts, the employer will be required to document in a recruitment report that such efforts were unsuccessful, including the lawful, jobrelated reasons for not hiring any U.S. workers who applied for the position.

After a review of the employer’s documentation, the regional Certifying Officer will either certify or deny the application. In all instances in which an application is denied, the denialnotification will set forth the deficiencies upon which the denial is based. The employer would be able to seek administrative-judicial review of a denial.

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