Employers can get a head start on their PERM application by checking in with the online prevailing wage system. The DOL rolled it out with little fanfare in 2010, so many employers don’t know about it. It is important that employers make the most of this access though, because it is full of helpful information to guide the application process from start to finish.
Before the introduction of this online portal, the DOL would take a long while analyzing and reporting on the status of the prevailing wage. Prevailing wage determinations had previously been the responsibility of state agents. Employers would need to apply for a prevailing wage determination at a state office before any other applications could be filed. Adding weeks to an application is extremely costly for employers, not to mention the fact that all the paper filing was taking its toll on the DOL staff. Lessening the workload and improving efficiency are the two main reasons the DOL developed this online portal.
What Does the Online Portal Show?
The online portal, referred to as iCert, has a number of features. Employers can sign up for a profile online and get access to the iCert system at all times. The program lists a number of different categories that help employers apply correctly. This includes listing the required forms, the estimated processing time, a general user guide for helpful tips, and more. These are certainly proving helpful to employers who, in the past, had to rely on phone calls and their own research to figure out the different steps.
One of the most important benefits of iCert is listing the prevailing wage determination. The DOL keeps a massive database with all the information they have about the average wages for each industry across each state. An interested employer can search specifically for their industry and region to get an idea of what the prevailing wage will be. The DOL relies on this database to produce prevailing wage estimates much faster than they used to. It is then posted on the portal and the employer is given the green light to proceed to the next stage.
The Importance of Transparency
Going digital has improved the transparency of the DOL in their assessment of PERM applications. It has given a lot of helpful information to employers, which in turn has meant improved labor advertising and a more efficient immigration procedure in general. These kinds of improvements are a welcome change to a department that used to draw a lot of criticism for its snail-like pace. Perhaps most importantly of all, iCert has underscored the legitimacy of the PERM process by showing employers that the DOL operates under strict procedures that cannot be circumvented by any company, no matter the size.