US: Delays in processing prevailing wage determinations

At a recent meeting with business immigration stakeholders, officials from the Department of Labor’s National Prevailing Wage Processing Center (NWPC) confirmed that the agency is experiencing backlogs of 80 to 90 days in the processing of PERM-related prevailing wage determination (PWD) requests.  PWDs have historically taken no more than 60 days to process, but since last summer, employers and their counsel have noted a steady increase beyond this time-frame. 

Citing a 16% increase in PWD filings as the cause for the backlog, the agency indicated that it is working to reduce processing times below 80 days, but does not anticipate a return to 60-day processing in the near term, in part because no additional staffing resources are being added.  

To more accurately communicate processing times to the public, the NPWC will now report the average filing date of PWDs under adjudication.  Individual cases may take longer than stated processing times.  PWD processing times are posted to DOL’s iCERT portal.

What This Means for Employers

Because it is unlikely that the NPWC will work through the PWD backlog in the near future, employers should anticipate a PWD processing time of up to three months when planning a PERM case on behalf of a foreign worker. Accounting for longer PWD processing times during PERM planning can help minimize the risk of employment authorization gaps for H-1B workers who will require the filing of a PERM application to extend their non-immigrant status beyond the six-year maximum.

Stuart Beaty

Celsium, Birmingham, UK