The Labor Certification process is designed to allow US employers to hire foreign nationals on a permanent full time basis in a wide range of occupations. Their reasons can range from wanting to hire the best candidate for a research position to hiring a specialty food cook from Thailand.
A Labor Certification Application indicates to the US Department of Labor (DOL) and the Unites States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) that a US employer wishes to hire a foreign national in a specific job and that after testing the labor market there is no insufficient US workers who are qualified, willing and able in the local labor market to fulfil the employer’s needs. The foreign national in turn must demonstrate that he or she is qualified, willing and able to do the job and they are admissible to the US.
In general, the prospective employer is required to obtain the approval of the DOL in order to employ a foreign national on a permanent basis. In order to protect U.S. workers, the DOL, has established strict criteria, which must be met before a labor certification application is certified.
The employer is required to undergo recruitment for the job being offered. The employer is required to recruit for more than (30) days, but no more than 180 days prior to filing the application with the DOL.
- Post job with the local State Workforce Agency
- Two consecutive Sunday ads in the largest local circulated newspaper
- Jobs that the DOL indicated as “professional” require additional recruitment efforts.
The advertising recruitment efforts produce applicants, the employer is obligated to contact all applicants within a designated time frame, and conduct an interview to determine if any of the applicants are qualified, willing, and able.
It is only after the recruitment efforts are completed that a Labor Certification Application may be filed with the DOL. It is currently taking approximately 180 days for the DOL to make a determination on Labor Certification Applications. (link to perm processing times) The DOL conducts random audits on applications. If an application is selected for an audit, the processing time will be a lengthier wait time than an application that has not been selected for an audit.
Once the application has been certified by the DOL, the second and third steps involve filing application with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). These processes involve the review of the job offer and the alien’s qualifications (I-140), and the admissibility of the foreign national (I-485).