Volume 5, Number 4
April 29, 2009
The Communiqué is an on-going series of messages to departments who sponsor international scholars at Boston University. With the Communiqué, we offer information that helps in the processing of scholar immigration-related documents and petitions. We hope you find the Communiqué a useful tool in working with the ISSO and in successfully hiring and sponsoring scholars from around the world. Past Communiqués are archived on our web site. Click here to go to the archive page.
- Delays in H-1B Processing Expected
Hiring departments preparing H-1B petitions should be aware that ISSO expects significant delays in H-1B processing effective immediately and into the summer due to a number of recent/upcoming changes in H-1B processing.
- H-1B petitions are currently being processed by the ISSO with delays due to the implementation of new USCIS forms in late March and delays in obtaining prevailing wage requests.
- The Department of Labor has announced changes to the Labor Certification process effecting H-1B petitions, which will become mandatory effective on May 15, 2009.
- New legislation being introduced in congress this month may impose cumbersome new eligibility and posting requirements for H-1B sponsors in an effort to protect jobs for U.S, workers.
The change s announced to the Labor Certification progress has already been rolled out is expected to become mandatory for all H-1B employers effective May 15, 2009.
How does the new Labor Certification process affect my H-1B cases?
H-1B “Temporary Worker in a Specialty Occupation” category requires processing steps with both the US Department of Labor ( DOL ) as well as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS – part of the US Department of Homeland Security). The DOL processing steps involved in securing H-1B sponsorship for a BU employee include:
- Obtaining a Prevailing Wage Determination from the State Workforce Agency
- Posting a Labor Conditional Application notice in two conspicuous places at the location(s) of employment
- Forwarding the Labor Condition Application to DOL for certification
The Labor Conditional Application (LCA) which the sponsoring employer must file with the DOL includes a summary of employment conditions under which the H-1B employee will be hired. These job conditions include the employer name, job title, actual wage offered, prevailing wage determination obtained, weekly hours of employment and dates of requested sponsorship. The LCA also includes a number of labor attestations to which the employer must commit in hiring a foreign national in H-1B classifications.
At the current time, the LCA certification process is an automatic process which can be done within a day.
Beginning in May, however, the DOL has indicated that it will begin to monitor this processing step much more closely and that it will now take up to one week for the DOL to certify an LCA. Early reports from institutions using this new system indicate that delays beyond one week and denials of certifications are also possible.
In light of the added processing time it will take to complete DOL processing, the ISSO encourages departments to submit any requests for new or continuing H-1B employees well in advance. While our estimate for ISSO processing time has been 4 weeks, we are now estimating that it may take 6 weeks or longer for the ISSO to complete initial processing steps prior to mailing the petition to the USCIS.
In light of this, we would advise that any new H-1B petitions which departments are preparing for summer or fall of 2009 should be submitted immediately, if possible, to minimize delays the new system might bring.
Please bear in mind that in addition to DOL processing steps, the ISSO then prepares the H-1B petition for final adjudication by the USCIS. Since standard USCIS processing for H-1B petitions is currently taking 3-6 months, departments are advised to submit petitions for H-1B sponsorship to the ISSO up to six months prior to the start date (or extension start date) requested.
Process or case-specific questions about H-1B sponsorship can be addressed to Andrea Popa at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your Scholar Services team,
Jeanne E. Kelley
M. Andrea Popa
Assistant Director for Scholar Services
Peter F. O’Meara
International Scholar Advisor
International Students & Scholars Office Boston University
19 Deerfield Street, 2nd Floor
Boston, MA 02215
Tel: (617) 353-3565
Fax: (617) 358-1170