So the last couple of months have seen some dramatic changes in the world of labor certification based immigration processing. The government shut down resulted in a loss of the iCert portal, and even after reopening, we’ve experienced longer than usual processing times for simple matters such as prevailing wage information.
Another unsettling trend is in the increase time necessary for PERM processing. Cases are now taking significantly longer to process from the U.S. Dept. of Labor than previously. When PERM was first introduced, it was supposed to be a 2 week processing time through automation. When that failed, it ended up resulting in processing times of up to 1 year. Then that fell under scrutiny, and the time suddenly dropped to 2 months. Since then, it has steadily slowed down again, and is now over 6 months for regular processing, and there has been a dramatic uptick in audited cases.
On a brighter note, the current visa bulletin is showing that the quota numbers are moving in the opposite direction of the PERM cases. Priority dates for EB3 cases are now down to cases only 2 years old. The strangest shift is in the China numbers. While China EB3 cases are being accepted with 2011 priority dates, the China EB2 cases are still only accepting from 2008!
At any rate, the moral of the story is, with these ever fluctuating numbers and increases in processing time, the need for looking ahead and proper immigration planning is more important than ever. It is well worth the time to make a long term cohesive plan for your immigration needs. A small investment today can save you from tremendous grief and expense in the future.