Wednesday, April 09, 2008
THE PERMANENT LABOR CERTIFICATION PROCESS:
A Broken and Dysfunctional System that Serves Neither American Employers Nor American Workers neither applicants.
Current law requires most employers seeking to permanently employ immigrants to obtain a certification from the Department of Labor (DOL) that there are no U.S. workers able, willing, qualified or available for the position offered to the foreign national before they are granted permanent residence (a "green card"). However, the system developed by DOL to meet this requirement has become inefficient and overly bureaucratic and goes far beyond the original statutory requirement. It neither meets the needs of employers looking to fill a position nor protects the U.S. workforce.
From a single clause in the Immigration and Nationality Act, DOL has created 23 pages of regulations, innumerable policy directives, an entire Technical Assistance Guide, a Board of Alien Labor Certification Appeals, a multimillion dollar bureaucracy and a system that is often completely unintelligible to employers. This system mandates a DOL-sponsored, supervised, and detailed recruitment process, separate from and conducted often much later than an employer's own unsuccessful domestic recruitment efforts.
The DOL, not the employer, dictates the appropriate methods of recruitment, the correct description of the job, and the "normal" requirements for the job. DOL also receives and reviews all applications, and decides whether the ultimate selection or rejection of a candidate was acceptable.
The entire process can take two years or longer to complete in some areas of the country. Such an extended period of time requires employers and foreign nationals to put their businesses and lives on hold. Any change in the employer, the job, or the recruitment, requires that the process begin again.
All parties involved in the system agree that it is dysfunctional. DOL has tried to "reengineer" the program over the last several years. However, inconsistent direction from policy-makers, and inconsistent implementation in the regions has stymied any effective change. Further, DOL's lack of resources to implement the program has led to unconscionable delays and backlogs in most areas of the country