May 19, 2005
As of March 28, 2005, employers filing permanent labor certification applications must now file directly with the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) under the new Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) system.
Employers must still obtain a prevailing wage determination from the Foreign Labor Certification (FLC) Unit of the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development (DOLWD); however applications must be filed with USDOL's National Processing Center in Chicago.
The new system, implemented to streamline the certification process for employers, uses a self-attestation process, which eliminates steps previously performed by the State of Alaska DOLWD.
"Unless we are vigilant, the loss of State oversight of this process could have a detrimental effect on Alaskan workers," says Labor Commissioner Greg O'Claray. "Alaska hire is our focus and we continue to pursue maximizing Alaskan employment in all our industries."
Non-permanent FLC applications, those with a duration of less than 365 days, are still processed through the FLC Unit of DOLWD.
On May 11, 2005, President Bush signed into law H.R. 1268, which included language allowing certain low-skill, seasonal foreign workers to be exempt from the annual national cap of 66,000 H-2B visas. The annual cap was already met in January of this federal fiscal year, which ends September 30, 2005. This provision will exempt from the annual cap all foreign workers who have used the H-2B program in the last three years and returned to their home countries when their visas expired. The measure also makes available some 50,000 employment-based green cards, designated primarily for foreign nurses.
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