The US DOL has announced several changes to the regulations governing applications for permanent labor certification under which employers are required to test the labor market as a prerequisite for many employment sponsored immigration cases. The changes go into effect on July 16. 2007. The rationale of the US DOL for these changes is to lessen fraud and abuse in the current labor certification process.
The changes are as follows:
1. Immigration petitions (Forms I-140) will be required to be filed within 180 days after the labor certification is approved. If not filed within 180 days, the labor certification will become invalid. (Currently, labor certification have remained valid indefinitely).
2. The practice allowing for substitution of another employee with an approved labor certification will be eliminated. (Currently, employers have been able to substitute another employee who met all the requirements of an approved labor certification at time it was filed to be sponsored for an immigrant petition Form I-140.)
3. Employers must be responsible for payment of all legal fees and expenses in connection with the preparation and filing of an application for permanent labor certification and can not pass these costs on to the sponsored employee through payroll deduction, reimbursement, or other means. The regulation makes an exception for payment by third parties who have a preexisting relationship with the employer, and who will benefit in some way by the employee's work. The regulation pertains to the cost of preparing a permanent labor certification and not for charges incurred in the preparation of a subsequent immigration petition I-140, or other immigration benefit granted by USCIS (U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services). The regulation is also silent on the validity of reimbursement of expenses clauses in employment contracts which require employees to remain with an employer for a certain period of time. Employers are recommended to contact counsel regarding the application of these provisions.
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