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Foreign Labor Certification

Helping U.S. employers fill jobs while protecting U.S. and foreign workers

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Office of Foreign Labor Certification - Purpose and Authority

The Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC), located within the Employment & Training Administration (ETA), provides national leadership and policy guidance to carry out the responsibilities of the Secretary of Labor under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), as amended, concerning the admission of foreign workers to the United States for employment.

OFLC processes labor certification applications for employers seeking to bring foreign workers into the United States and grants certifications in those cases where employers can demonstrate that there are not sufficient U.S. workers available, willing and qualified to perform the work at wages that meet or exceed the prevailing wage paid for the occupation in the area of intended employment. Foreign labor certification programs are designed to ensure that the admission of foreign workers into the United States on a permanent or temporary basis will not adversely affect the job opportunities, wages, and working conditions of U.S. workers.

Employment based immigration is a complex process that may involve a number of government agencies within the Federal government, including the Department of Labor, the United States Citizenship and Immigrant Services (USCIS) in the Department of Homeland Security, and the Department of State. The INA (8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.) regulates the admission of foreign workers into the United States and further designates the Attorney General and the Secretary of State as the principal administrators of its provisions. For a complete overview of the foreign labor certification process, click here.

OFLC Current Structure Organization Chart

Office of Foreign Labor Certification's Structure

Office of Foreign Labor Certification Organization

In carrying out its statutory responsibility OFLC administers both temporary nonimmigrant labor certification programs and the permanent immigrant labor certification program. These activities are carried out through ETA's National Processing Centers (NPCs) located in Atlanta, Georgia and in Chicago, Illinois. On June 1, 2008, the Atlanta NPC became responsible for adjudicating all employer applications for permanent labor certification (PERM), while the Chicago NPC assumed responsibility for adjudicating all employer applications for temporary labor certification under the H-1B, H-1B1, E-3, H-2A, H-2B, H-1C, and D-1 programs.

The National Prevailing Wage and Helpdesk Center was opened on January 4, 2010, and began receiving prevailing wage requests for use in the H-1B, H-1B1 (Chile/Singapore), H-2B, E-3 (Australia) and the permanent labor certification programs.

The State Workforce Agencies (SWAs) continue to provide critical knowledge and expertise in support of temporary non-agricultural and agricultural programs. The SWAs provide employment eligibility for U.S. workers referred to non-agricultural employment opportunities thus strengthening the program integrity of the Secretary's determinations regarding the availability of U.S. workers for non-agricultural employment opportunities.

The 2010 H-2A Final Rule reinstated the SWA role in providing knowledge and expertise on local labor market conditions and recruitment patterns thereby expanding job opportunities for U.S. workers. This final rule further reinstated the requirement that SWAs inspect and approve employer-provided housing before the Department issues a labor certification.