The Department of Labour (DOL) has introduced its electronic review officers and launched its new online portal – the Foreign Labour Application Gateway (FLAG). Speakers at the workshop included senior DOL representatives, centre directors, tech personnel, review officers, prevailing wage specialists and help-desk assistants from the DOL's Chicago, Atlanta and Washington offices.
While the FLAG portal does not yet have a module for Programme Electronic Review Management (PERM) applications (Form 9098), it is up and running for all:
- labour condition applications;
- temporary H-2A (temporary certification for agricultural workers) and H-2B (temporary labour certification for non-agricultural workers) applications; and
- prevailing wage applications.
The site is easy to navigate and understand, but some start-up bugs should be expected. For a smoother operation, stakeholders should consider the following do's and don'ts:
- When uploading attachments, users must click on the save button because there is no auto-prompt to save attachments which are intended to be transmitted together with the message.
- When withdrawing an application, users must indicate the withdrawal at the beginning of the document so that officers can find it easily.
- The comment section in FLAG is the best way to get points across; it allows officers to understand what users are trying to tell them straight away, instead of having to read through all of the uploaded material.
- Attachments should be used only to support conclusions.
- Employers cannot shop for a lower prevailing wage by tailoring the elements of the job offer.
- Licences and special certifications must always be stated clearly for ease of processing.
- Changes of contact information may be made for pending cases on FLAG anytime up to a final decision.
- Changes of attorneys may be made online only by employers, which must authorise a sub-account for each.
- The same email address should be used for all communications with the DOL.
- DOL email addresses should be de-spammed so that they always appear in users' inboxes – this is stakeholders' responsibility.
- Changes of contact information for employers with multiple applications can be accomplished by sending one notice because the DOL can use batch files for this purpose.
- The DOL encourages all responses to be made via uploads and not email; duplicate responses via upload and email should be avoided.
- Tear sheets may be accompanied by a blow-up view to make the ads easier to read.
- Extensions should be requested as soon as possible and always with good cause. Such cause should be stated clearly and all communications should include the PERM case number.
Stakeholder discussions are held four times a year and are highly productive.
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