DOL Releases Foreign Labor Certification Statistics

In an age of global competition, some of America’s most successful companies have tapped into the international talent pool, because hiring the world’s best and brightest puts them ahead of the pack. Employer-sponsored green cards (e.g., PERM) and nonimmigrant visa programs – like the H1B – allow these companies to search internationally for the best candidates to meet their needs. Employers who use such programs must first get permission from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), to ensure that American workers will not be adversely affected when a worker is hired from overseas.

The authority that makes these determinations – the DOL’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification – recently released its statistics for the 2013 fiscal year, which ended September 30, 2013. [See National Prevailing Wage Center – Select Statistics, FY 2013, Office of Foreign Labor Certification and Permanent Labor Certification Program – Select Statistics, FY 2013, Office of Foreign Labor Certification.] The latest figures indicate that DOL’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification made 118,393 prevailing wage determinations in fiscal year 2013 (FY13), a 13 percent drop compared to the previous fiscal year. In the same period, 6,490 prevailing wage applications were withdrawn, and 16,274 were pending at the end of the fourth quarter.

The top five occupations among PERM-related prevailing wage determinations adjudicated in FY13: application software developers (25%); computer systems analysts (8%); developers of software systems (6%); electronics engineers, except computer (4%); and computer and information systems managers (4%). For H1B-related prevailing wage determinations, the top five occupations were heavily tilted toward health sciences, with developers of software applications in fifth place (at 4% of the total).

Among the PERM applications certified by the DOL in FY13, the top five occupations were: computer and mathematical (57%), architecture and engineering (11%), management (8%), business and financial operations (6%), and healthcare practitioners and technical (5%). In FY13, the top five countries of citizenship for PERM applicants were: India (59%), China (6%), Canada (4%), South Korea (4%), and the Philippines (3%).

One hopes that, in future years, these statistics will reflect the larger, more robust H1B and green card programs that were contained in the Senate’s immigration reform bill – an approach that’s been gathering momentum among the nation’s business leaders. Though immigration reform is likely to remain a dead letter for the rest of 2013, it will be incumbent on these same business leaders to make their voices heard in 2014, and ensure that employment-based immigration is at the top of the Congressional agenda.

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Disclaimer: The information provided here is of a general nature and may not apply to any specific or particular circumstance. It is not to be construed as legal advice nor presumed indefinitely up to date.