The DOL recently announced in its H-2B final regulations that it will be centralizing the processing of prevailing wage determinations at its Chicago National Processing Center. However, the DOL indicated that it will be transitioning the prevailing wage program from the individual state Department of Labor (SWA) to the Federal National Processing Center at different times depending on the program. For the H-2B program, employers with a date of need as indicated on the temporary labor certification application on or after October 1, 2009 will be required to seek a prevailing wage determination from the Chicago National Processing Center prior to commencing recruitment. H-2B employers with a need prior to October 1, 2009 will continue to seek prevailing wage determinations from the SWA.

For the H-1C program, employers will be required to begin processing prevailing wage determination requests through the National Processing Center shortly after January 18, 2009. However, before these employers will be able to process prevailing wage requests through the Chicago National Processing Center, the Federal DOL will have to devise and release a new prevailing wage form.

For the H-1B, H-1B1, E-3 and PERM programs, the Chicago National Processing Center will begin to provide prevailing wage determinations on January 1, 2010. On this date, SWAs will no longer be providing prevailing wage determinations, even though previously issued determinations will remain valid if used prior to the expiration date or October 2010, whichever is earliest.

In the preamble to the H-2B Final Regulations, the DOL stated that it believes that it will process prevailing wage requests within 30 days. However, it encourages H-2B employers to submit prevailing wage requests up to 60 days before employers want to commence the mandatory recruitment process as required in the H-2B program. Currently, most SWAs process prevailing wage requests in less than one week. Therefore, if the Federal DOL is going to take 30 days to process prevailing wage requests, employers are going to encounter significant delays in the processing of their various immigration applications which require prevailing wage determinations.