The U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") recently announced that its Office of Foreign Labor Certification ("OFLC") has had to temporarily suspend processing applications for prevailing wage determinations ("PWDs"), including requests for redeterminations and Center Director Reviews. Employers seeking to sponsor a foreign national ("FN") employee must secure a PWD as part of the Program Electronic Review Management ("PERM") labor certification process, which is normally the first step in the green card process.

According to the DOL, the OFLC had to stop work on PWDs to comply with a federal court mandate requiring the OFLC to recalculate approximately 4,000 PWDs issued in connection with the H-2B temporary worker program. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services ("USCIS") issued a revised methodology for these calculations on August 1, 2011, and the court directed the OFLC to follow this new methodology in these 4,000 cases. The DOL believes that it will be able to satisfy the court's directive by October 1, 2011. However, it has indicated that it needs to focus all available resources to achieve this goal and, thus, must stop work on other cases, including the PWDs required for PERM applications.

Employers cannot file a PERM application without first securing a PWD. Moreover, in most instances, the employer needs a valid PWD to commence and complete the recruiting required for PERM applications. Thus, the DOL's announcement promises to delay the ability of sponsoring employers to prepare and file PERM applications.