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Latest on H-1B: LCA Processing Times are expected to Increase in 2009
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It may come as a surprise to most of the prospective employers who are planning to file H-1B visa petitions on April 1, 2009 that the Labor Condition Application (LCA) processing times are expected to increase. However employers have to make sure that processing delays do not endanger the timely filing of an H-1B petition. The employers are advised to file LCAs well before the opening of the H-1B filing season.

The Department of Labor (DOL), in 2009, is expected to introduce new procedures for obtaining the labor condition application (LCA). Employers must take these increased processing times into account when planning for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 H-1B filing season, which opens on April 1, 2009. The Labor certification applications (LCAs) are submitted to DOL online, and are generally adjudicated and approved very quickly. Earlier this year, however, DOL announced that it would increase its scrutiny of LCAs in 2009 and would take up to seven days to adjudicate them. Even longer processing times could be possible, such as where DOL decides to examine the information used by the employer to determine the required wage for the H-1B position.

It is important that the employers plan to submit LCAs to DOL as soon as possible so that H-1B petitions can be completed and ready to file on April 1. They should not wait until the final weeks before April 1, 2009 to obtain certified LCAs. Employers should note that obtaining an LCA early can shorten an H-1B worker's initial period of stay, since LCAs can only be obtained six months before a requested start date and are valid for a maximum of three years. However, the certified LCA will be in hand and ready to file with the H-1B petition on April 1.

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