The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently provided additional information about its current processing times and its backlogs in the PERM program. The DOL stated that PERM processing significantly slowed during the fourth quarter of 2008 due to contractor issues. The DOL awarded a contract for additional contractor staff during the summer of 2008. However, the losing contractor appealed and won the appeal. The initial contractor that was awarded the contract then sued. Therefore, the contractors did not come on board until September 2008 when the contractor issue was resolved and then had to complete training.
The DOL stated that the contractors are now trained and in place so that the pace of PERM processing has increased. The DOL stated that although only approximately 4,500 PERM applications were completed during the fourth quarter of 2008, more than 3,500 PERM applications were completed in January 2009 alone. However, the DOL expects that this rate will not increase and may slow down again because the DOL’s Atlanta Processing Center where PERM application adjudications have been centralized only has 40 federal employees and these employees must be available to review the contractors’ work.