The US Department of Labor (USDOL) is amending its permanent labor certification (LC) regulations. Effective July 16, 2007 the amendments to the regulations will apply to all LCs, whether pending or approved as of that date, and whether filed under Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) or the pre-PERM programs. The following is a list of the most important changes made by the regulations:
- Substitution of beneficiaries in LC cases will be prohibited. However, this prohibition will not affect any substitutions approved either by the USDOL or US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) prior to the effective date of the regulation, nor will it apply to substitution requests that are in progress as of that date.
- Modifications to LCs will also be prohibited. (If this change is taken literally, no amendments will be permitted to labor certification applications including nonsubstantive changes in address and telephone numbers.)
- Under current rules, LCs have no expiration date. Under the new regulations, approved LCs will be good only for 180 calendar days beginning the day after the date of approval. Sponsoring employers must file a Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, with USCIS on behalf of the sponsored employee within those 180 days. For LCs approved before July 16, 2007, the I-140 must be filed within 180 days of that date.
- Sale, barter or purchase of permanent labor certifications and applications will be prohibited. However, transfer of LCs from one employer to another, in the context of corporate restructuring, may be possible, if no value (consideration) changes hands.
- Employers are prohibited from receiving payment as an incentive or inducement to file an LC. Employers may not seek reimbursement or deduct from an employee's wages any expenses associated with the LC process including recruitment costs and attorneys’ fees. Employee beneficiaries, however, will be permitted to cover their own legitimate LC costs including attorneys’ fees.
- Existing laws regarding denials, fraud, willful misrepresentation, suspension and criminal indictments will be reinforced. The changes also clarify current USDOL procedures for responding to incidents of possible fraud and establish procedures for the exclusion (debarment) of employers from the LC program.