New LCA System Required by U.S. Department of Labor
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has activated a new online system for the filing and certification of Labor Condition Applications (LCAs). The system is referred to as the "iCert Portal" and will be required as of May 15, 2009.
LCAs are a mandatory component of all H-1B specialty occupation petitions, H-1B1 petitions (specialty occupation, citizens of Chile and Singapore), and E-3 petitions (specialty occupation, citizens of Australia). One of the key attestations an employer makes by filing an LCA is that it will pay the greater of prevailing or actual wage for the specialty occupation position.
What does this mean for employers? The new filing system will result in a change in LCA certification timeframes. The vast majority of LCAs filed under the previous online system were certified instantaneously by DOL. DOL may now take up to 7 business days, and perhaps longer, to certify an LCA.
Because an employer must include a DOL-certified LCA in order to file an H-1B, H-1B1, or E-3 petition, employers need to be cognizant of this additional processing time, especially in urgent filing situations, such as changes of employer.