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.
As negotiations in Congress continue towards resolving the shutdown of the federal government, individuals and companies that interact with the various federal agencies that administer immigration programs are naturally wondering how they might be affected. US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) typically provides clear information about the impact of a government shutdown on its operations. For other agencies, we can only look to prior shutdowns in 2011 and 2013 to understand what to expect.
As a general matter, only “essential” employees will continue to work until funding is restored. The following is what we anticipate with respect to the various agencies Hunton & Williams deals with on behalf of our clients: