Federal government enforcement of immigration benefits requests also continue to increase. On July 8, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it was initiating department-supervised recruitment for all pending permanent labor certification (PERM) applications filed by the Pittsburgh-based Cohen & Grigsby law firm. Supervised recruitment requires the employer to receive advance approval from the DOL for all recruitment efforts to ensure that U.S. workers are fully considered for available positions. While the DOL can require supervised recruitment for a variety of reasons, the agency’s press release specified concerns the firm may have improperly advised its clients regarding the recruitment of U.S. workers.

On the same day, the DOL announced that it formally debarred LawLogix Group Inc. from filing applications for permanent labor certification for a period of three years. LawLogix designs and sells software to businesses that utilize the permanent labor certification program. LawLogix submitted more than 100 applications using the permanent program’s online filing system in the last year, apparently for the sole purpose of testing the parameters of the DOL’s PERM electronic processing system. Based upon these filings, the DOL concluded that LawLogix willfully provided false or inaccurate information when applying for permanent labor certifications, and engaged in a pattern or practice of failing to comply with the terms of the PERM application form.

The DOL has been expanding efforts to enhance permanent labor certification integrity and reduce the incentives and opportunities for abuse of the system. Last July, new regulations were implemented to end the practice of substitution of foreign nationals on approved labor certifications and banned employers from recouping costs of the labor certification process from the foreign national employee. Last fall, the DOL began auditing a substantial number of PERM filings. Last month, the DOL announced it was auditing all PERM applications filed by the Fragomen law firm (see the June 2008 issue of the Immigration eAuthority). Ogletree Deakins attorneys have revisited procedures to ensure compliance with the PERM regulations in light of these recent developments.

Note: This article was published in the July 2008 issue of the Immigration eAuthority.