Increased consolidation of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) foreign labor certification application processing centers begins June 1, 2008.
In addition, 15 days after the DOL’s foreign labor certification application national processing centers (NPCs)—located in Atlanta and Chicago—undertake specific processing of visa-related foreign labor certification applications, the DOL’s National Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) in Washington, D.C., will no longer accept such applications, says the department’s regulation “Non-Electronic Filing of Applications for Permanent and Temporary Foreign Labor Certification” posted in the Federal Register March 5, 2008. Starting on June 16, 2008, all applications filed at the wrong NPC will not be forwarded, but will be rejected, the department says.(During the 15 days after the NPCs undertake their specific processing duties, applications filed with the incorrect NPC, or at the OFLC, will be forwarded to the correct location.)
In December 2004, DOL opened NPCs in Atlanta and Chicago as part of a long-term strategy to streamline the labor certification process that has been “fragmented, duplicative, lengthy and unduly burdensome,” the department says. The NPCs currently process labor certification applications filed by, or on behalf of, employers seeking to employ permanent or temporary foreign workers in the United States. In an effort to make the “processing of applications as efficient and effective” as possible, the DOL is centralizing the processing of permanent applications at the Atlanta NPC and the processing of temporary program applications at the Chicago NPC.
The Atlanta NPC will process permanent labor certification applications, which allow employers to seek the permanent employment of foreign nationals in the United States, the DOL says.
The Chicago NPC will process temporary labor certification applications related to the D-1, E-3, H-1B, H-1B1, H-1C, H-2A and H-2B nonimmigrant visa programs, the DOL says.
• The D-1 visa program provides a means for U.S. employers to import foreign nationals on a temporary basis as crewmembers to perform longshore work at U.S. ports.
• The E-3 visa program provides a means for U.S. employers to import Australian nationals to perform services in a specialty occupation.
• The H-1B visa program provides a means for U.S. employers to import foreign nationals on a temporary basis to perform services in a specialty occupation or as a fashion model.
• The H-1B1 visa program provides a means for U.S. employers to import nationals of Chile and Singapore to perform services in a specialty occupation.
• The H-1C visa program provides a means for certain U.S. employers to import foreign workers on a temporary basis to perform services as registered nurses in health professional shortage areas.
• The H-2A visa program provides a means for U.S. employers to employ foreign workers on a temporary or seasonal basis to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature.
• The H-2B visa program provides a means for U.S. employers to employ foreign workers on a temporary basis to perform non-agricultural services or labor, if unemployed U.S. workers are unavailable.
In addition, requests to withdraw labor condition applications (LCA) for H-1B, H-1B1 and E-3 non-immigrants that cannot be made electronically must be submitted to the Chicago processing center. Employers authorized to file paper LCAs because of a physical disability must file such applications with the Chicago center.
J.J. Smith is manager of SHRM Online’s Global HR Focus Area.