Effective November 5, 2009, the USCIS began accepting H-1B petitions filed without Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) that have been certified by the Department of Labor (DOL). Such petitions will be accepted only temporarily, through March 4, 2010.

The USCIS is implementing this measure due to processing delays stemming from DOL’s new “iCERT” system. In certain cases, DOL is taking beyond 7 calendar days to issue LCA certifications, causing delays in the H-1B filing process.

Employers wishing to file an H-1B petition without a certified LCA may do so only after at least 7 calendar days have passed since the LCA was filed with DOL. The H-1B petition must include a copy of DOL’s e-mail acknowledging receipt of the LCA as evidence that the LCA was filed.

Once an H-1B petition has been filed without a certified LCA, the petitioning employer must wait to receive a request for evidence (RFE) before submitting the DOL-certified LCA to USCIS in connection with the pending petition. Once an RFE is issued, employers will have 30 calendar days to respond with a copy of a DOL-certified LCA.