The US Department of Labor (USDOL) has published its statistics for fiscal year 2018, which ended on September 30, 2018. The USDOL certified the majority of the 119,776 labor certification (PERM) applications processed in the last fiscal year. Of the 24,052 applications still in process with the USDOL as of the end of the fiscal year, 64% were still in analyst review and 25% were in audit review. The majority of PERM applications were for: computer and mathematics occupations; positions in California and Texas; positions in the Professional, Scientific and Technical Services or manufacturing industries; and positions requiring at least a bachelor’s degree or higher. The high rate of certification reflects the low national unemployment rate and tight labor market that employers are facing. However, American Immigration Lawyers Association members are also reporting an increase in extensive requests for evidence for immigrant worker petitions (I-140) from the US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS), following PERM certification. At times, these include requests for PERM recruitment documents. The process for employment-based permanent residence continues to be long and arduous both for nonimmigrants and for their employers.
The US Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS) has just announced that it will temporarily suspend premium processing service for H-1B Cap petitions for Fiscal Year 2019. The suspension is expected to remain in effect until September 10, 2018. Once the suspension is lifted, pending H-1B Cap petitions can be upgraded to premium processing service, if desired. Other H-1B petition types, including petitions to amend or extend H-1B status, or to change employers, are not impacted at this time. The official announcement can be seen here. We will continue to monitor these developments and will post updates as new information becomes available.