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iCert Delays and Issues With Prevailing Wages Slow Down H-1B Visa Approvals

After 16 days of inactivity due to the shutdown of the government, the Department of Labor (DOL) resumed the operations of its Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC), which provides services that are essential to the process of hiring foreign workers. Soon after the iCert online portal was back in business, however, various immigration law firms reported that the system was nearly unresponsive on October 18th.

The unresponsive iCert online portal was probably a technical issue of overcapacity. Users had been waiting more than two weeks for the system to come back online, and it is very likely that they all attempted to sign in at the same time. Still, technical difficulties are not the only issues causing H-1B visas to be significantly delayed. Problems with delays date back to the implementation of iCert in 2009, and although the OFLC has taken some steps to address the overlong waiting times, there is still a lot more room for improvement.

The iCert portal is where the Labor Condition Application is carried out. This is one of the most important aspects of the H-1B visa process, which in recent years has been subjected to higher levels of scrutiny as provided by the United States Immigration and Naturalization Act (INA). In fact, the iCert system was introduced in 2009 for this purpose. In the past, LCA approvals could often be obtained in just one day; under the current system, it takes seven days just for the application to be reviewed. The higher scrutiny is also causing some applications to take longer, which in turn is causing headaches for employers who are watching the seasonal caps of H-1B or E-3 visas.

Another issue that is hindering the hiring of foreign workers involves salary and wage determination. The methodology used by the DOL to establish prevailing wages has been challenged by lobbyists as well as workers’ advocacy groups. Earlier this year, I-129 applications and H-2B petitions were halted by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services due to the implementation of a court order related to a labor rights case. With the minimum wage debate heating up in Congress, more challenges to the prevailing wages methodology could be filed against the DOL, which could bring about further mass delays.

Foreign workers are vital to the economic recovery of the U.S.; delays caused by government’s handling of matters such as the LCA and prevailing wages do not help in this regard. These are issues that should not be left out of the current immigration reform debate.

If you or someone you know was affected by the iCert delays and you have questions about how to move forward, contact KS Visa Law today. Recently Harun Kazmi was interviewed regarding these problems with a local news channel and an Australian national client trying to process his E-3 visa.

Expert immigration attorneys in San Diego, we can answer any of your questions and can assist you with all of your immigration needs. Contact us today at 858-874-0711 to schedule a free consultation.

October 2023