Attorneys from our firm attended the American Immigration Lawyer Association ("AILA") annual conference in June. At the conference, the U.S. Department of Labor ("DOL") indicated that the percentage of PERM labor certification applications under DOL audit is approximately 30%. For many employers who seek to sponsor a foreign national employee for permanent resident status, the PERM labor certification application process is the first required step. The process involves the employer conducting a good faith test of the labor market to determine if there are qualified, willing and available U.S. workers who are qualified to perform the offered job.

DOL also indicated that the time frames for decisions on cases being audited has markedly slipped. Not long ago, the DOL National Processing Center in Chicago issued PERM decisions in a matter of weeks after receiving an employer's audit reply and the NPC in Atlanta generally took several months. Now, DOL reports that it may take a year or longer for a decision after DOL receives an employer's response to an audit notice. Part of the problem is that DOL is auditing all PERM cases filed by the largest immigration law firm in the United States, so resources that otherwise would be committed to PERM audit reviews across the board and now being re-directed to focus on applications filed by one law firm.