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Home Link Foreign Labor Certification Questions and Answers


When an employer receives an approved labor certification from DOL, the employer will be required to file an I-129 Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker or an I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker with the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). The certified application must be included when the employer files for approval to hire workers either temporarily (I-129) or permanently (I-140). For detailed instructions on USCIS forms, refer to the USCIS forms website.



The actual process for the Foreign Labor Certification varies depending upon the program being used. This Web site contains information regarding the process for filing for each of the programs under the Department of Labor's (DOL) jurisdiction. The filing of applications is the responsibility of the employer, not the employee. However, the employee can benefit from understanding the program being utilized in his/her behalf. In general the Department of Labor works to ensure that the admission of foreign workers to work in the U.S. will not adversely affect the job opportunities, wages and working conditions of U.S. workers. Once a Foreign Labor Certification application has been approved by the DOL, the employer will need to seek the immigration authorization from USCIS.



Depending upon the nature of the program the process for filing could vary between months and years. To be of assistance, we have provided on our Web site the current processing times in the DOL regions and states. Currently, the process to obtain an employment based temporary labor certification (H-2A, H-2B) usually may take months through the state agency and the DOL regional office. However, H-1B processing usually only takes seven working days. The process to obtain an employment based permanent labor certification can sometimes take up to several months after completing the necessary recruitment steps and filing the application with the National Processing Center. The PERM Processing Times are updated monthly and available for view at http://icert.doleta.gov.

For the employment-based permanent visa, the USCIS may take up to an additional 9 months to process the request. USCIS will provide "premium processing" for some visa categories with an additional fee.



Most programs administered by the DOL do not charge fees for a foreign labor certification. Every program does, however, require fees be paid to the USCIS upon filing an application for a visa or greencard. See the individual program (H-2A) for details regarding DOL fees. See the USCIS site for details regarding USCIS fees.



An employer should pro-actively and regularly, advisably once a month or less, monitor the status of an electronically filed labor certification application via the Permanent Case Management System, and compare its filing date, i.e., the date the application was submitted for processing, to the PERM processing times posted on the iCERT Visa Portal System (http://icert.doleta.gov/). If there is more than a 30-day difference between the employer's filing date and the PERM processing time, the employer may contact the National Processing Center (NPC) for a status update.

An employer who filed a labor certification application via mail may contact the National Processing Center's Help Desk at 404-893-0101 for a status update.