The U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") launched the new system of processing labor certifications, known as PERM, in March 2005. After many problems in administering the new system, DOL worked out most of the kinks and the program has functioned relatively well for the past two years. The number of audits was relatively quite modest over the past few years. However, starting in the fourth quarter of 2007, DOL started auditing a much higher volume of cases. DOL has just released statistics showing that 44% of all cases are under audit review. This is a dramatic increase and DOL is obviously testing system integrity and seeking to combat fraud. DOL has the ability to crossreference cases in its system for an employer quite readily. Therefore, employers should be certain that if they file cases for an occupation with the same location with different skill sets, that there is a justification for doing so, such as markedly different job duties or duties performed at a significantly different level. Employers should also recognize that skill sets that require education and experience beyond the DOL's very "modest" O*Net standards for education and experience are very likely to be audited right now and that DOL will expect to see a business necessity justification.
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PERM labor certification audits are rising
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