The Department of Labor (DOL) published a Final Rule on May 17, 2007 (72 Fed. Reg. 27,904), prohibiting the substitution of beneficiaries on pending or approved labor certification applications in an effort to reduce fraud in the process. Effective July 16, 2007, the USCIS will not accept any substitution-based immigrant petition filings. In addition, the rule provides for a 180-day validity period for approved labor certifications. Consequently, an employer would have 180 calendar days within which to file an approved labor certification in support of Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker. The 180-day validity period will start to run from the date of labor certification approval (for cases approved after July 16, 2007), or from July 16, 2007 (for applications certified by the DOL prior to that date). Furthermore, the rule prohibits the sale, barter or purchase of approved and pending labor certification applications. The rule also imposes a requirement that the costs of obtaining labor certification, including attorney fees, be paid by the employer and that employers cannot seek or receive any payments related to obtaining the labor certification from the employee. Historically, it has been permissible for the employee being sponsored to pay the costs associated with the preparation and filing of this application. As a result of the new rule, the employee may pay only his/her own costs in connection with a labor certification, such as the attorneys' fees for representation of the employee himself/herself, provided that the same attorney is not also representing the employer. The rule states that this will minimize improper financial involvement by foreign nationals in the labor certification process, and strengthen the enforceability of the bona fide job opportunity requirement. The rule also provides for debarment of an employer from the permanent labor certification program for certain specified violations.