The Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced that the Office of Foreign Labor Certification’s (OFLC) National Prevailing Wage Center (NPWC) has suspended temporarily processing of prevailing wage determinations (PWDs), re-determinations, and Center Director Reviews. The NPWC handles PWDs for the PERM labor certification, H-1B, H-1B1 (Chile/Singapore), H-2B, and E-3 programs. As a result of the suspension, prevailing wage requests filed since early June 2011 are still pending. Previously, such requests were routinely processed in three to four weeks.
DOL also published a final rule on wage methodology for the H-2B (temporary nonagricultural employment) program, effective September 30, 2011.
In response to practitioners’ inquiries concerning pending requests, the NPWC has been issuing the following e-mail:
The OFLC National Prevailing Wage Center is experiencing delays in processing prevailing wage determinations as it is currently working to reissue certain determinations to comply with a court order issued June 15, 2011 in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. A Notice of Proposed Rulemaking was published in the Federal Register on June 28, 2011, and a Final Rule will be published on August 1. All Center resources are currently being utilized to comply with this court order. The processing of Prevailing Wage Determinations, redeterminations, and Center Director Reviews has been temporarily suspended. Processing will resume as soon as full compliance with the court order has been completed by OFLC. If you have further questions concerning your PWD, please contact 202-693-3010.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) published notes on a stakeholder call with the Department of Labor (DOL) about this topic. Among other things, Dr. Bill Carlson, a representative from the Office of Foreign Labor Certification, said that DOL was very aware of the impact of the prevailing wage hold and that the agency has been reviewing all appropriate suggestions from stakeholders. However, in considering possible suggestions, he stated that DOL was not considering any proposal that would require waiving regulatory requirements. DOL must issue all of the H-2B wage redeterminations before September 30 to comply with the court order. The stakeholder notes say that after DOL has cleared the H-2B wage redeterminations, it will then move resources to H-2B processing and must process those cases within 30 days. As those are processed, DOL will begin working on PERM and H-1B wage requests.
The Department of Labor’s final rule, published at 76 Fed. Reg. 45667 (Aug. 1, 2011), is available here.