Answer: Actually, the PERM program is going to be a much faster route for the Labor Certification. However, it is not yet here. But, there has been some guidance from top government officials on the progress of PERM. The Department of Labor expects the regulations to be published before the end of 2004. Afterwards, they expect the regulations to take effect in 60 days. However, they have made contingency plans if the regulations do not get published by the end of 2004.
Normally, a Labor Certification goes to the State Workforce Agency (SWA) first for processing before it goes up to the federal Department of Labor. With the event of PERM, the SWA’s will be taken out of the picture and the Labor Certification will be filed directly with the Department of Labor.
Question: What is the contingency plan if the regulations are not published by the end of 2004?
Answer: In 2005, the SWA’s will send their caseload to newly made centralized federal locations. Thus, the SWA’s can still accept cases (if the regulations are not published), but will not process them. They will only send them to the determined central federal locations for processing at the federal level. The backlog centers are in Philadelphia and Dallas. These centers are made for the sole purpose to reduce the backlog of Labor Certifications around the U.S. These backlog centers are temporary and are expected to be closed within two years. The goal is to get rid of the years of backlog cases by processing them through these backlog centers. As for permanent national centers, these will be located in Atlanta and Chicago and will be operational next year. These centers are expected to handle all future incoming Labor Certification cases.
Question: If the regulations do not go into effect on January 1, 2005, what must I do with my Labor Certification?
Answer: Remember that the SWA is the State Workforce Agency and this is the agency that normally would have done initial processing on the Labor Certification (which many times would last for several years before being sent to the Department of Labor.) The SWA will still accept the case. They will time-stamp the filing, but they will not process the case. They will then send the case to one of the two new regional processing centers in Atlanta or Chicago once they are up and running. As of now, there are basically DOL Labor Certification centers all across the nation. It appears these will all be consolidated into the two national centers mentioned.
In any event, there has already been one major shipment of backlogged cases to the temporary backlog centers and it is expected that the remainder will be shipped before March of 2005. It is certainly a new day for Labor Certifications. Hopefully, the years of waiting will come to a reasonable and happy end.