On July 1, 2009, the Department of Labor implemented a new system known as iCERT to verify Labor Condition Applications (LCAs) used in the processing of H-1B petitions. Under the old system, LCAs may be instantaneously approved and used for quick processing of H-1B cases.
However, LCAs now submitted under the new iCERT system may take up to 7 days to verify without any obvious errors on the application, and employers/workers should take into account this waiting period before filing their H-1B petitions. In addition, the DOL’s effort to work in conjunction with the IRS to verify taxpayer federal employment identification numbers (FEIN’s) for employer-petitioners has created widespread FEIN recognition problems on a seemingly random basis.
From July 1, 2009 to the present, Lin & Valdez continue to handle many new H-1s or H-1 employer changing cases. Several LCAs filed under the iCERT system are being denied due to non-recognition of the employers’ FEIN, as DOL tries to work out these various problems in their new system. Although evidence may be submitted to rebut this iCERT error, response letters from the DOL may take an additional 2-3 weeks. Furthermore, once DOL has finally verified that the FEIN may be used, H-1B employers must resubmit the LCA, which could take another 7 days on top of this.
Previously, H-1B beneficiaries who change employers relied on quick submission of their H-1B packages to begin work with their new employers. However, with these delays under iCERT, a “gap” in status may be created as beneficiaries switch from one employer to the next. We want to remind the readers of this issue in this situation as submission of an LCA may now take longer than anticipated and H-1B applicants should be wary of this potential situation when filing for a new H-1B petition.