Immigration Law

iCERT Updates from DOL (Jan. 3, 2019)

DOL Office of Foreign Labor Certification 

Jan. 3, 2019: OFLC Issues Status Update on Availability of the iCERT System

The iCERT system for application processing is tentatively scheduled to open at 2:00 p.m. EST on MONDAY, JANUARY 7, 2019.

The Department is currently testing the system to process a record number of applicants. DOL has made 50 servers available for processing, more than eight times as many as available for processing on January 1, 2019.

To offer a further detailed update, senior leaders of the Employment and Training Administration will be conducting a conference call TOMORROW, FRIDAY, JANUARY 4, 2019 at 2:00 p.m EST. to provide a further update on the status of the iCERT system. The conference call can be accessed by calling 1-888-946-6304 and using participant code 9462870.

Jan. 3, 2019: OFLC Issues Frequently Asked Question Regarding H-2A Applications Impacted by the iCERT system failure on January 1

QUESTION: I am an H-2A employer impacted by the iCERT system failure that occurred in the early morning of January 1, 2019, and was not able to file my application 45 days before the start date of work. When system service is restored, will the Chicago NPC consider the recent system outage as a qualifying emergency?

ANSWER: Yes. The Department recognizes that some employers are not able to submit their H-2A applications at least 45 calendar days before the start date of work due to the temporary iCERT system outage. We consider this situation to qualify as good and substantial cause under 20 CFR 655.134. When the Department has restored system service, employers with start dates of need less than 45 days from the date of restored service may file their H-2A applications with the Chicago NPC using emergency procedures and should include a statement that their request for a waiver of the regulatory timeframe for filing is based on the temporary iCERT system outage.

January 3, 2019: OFLC Issues Frequently Asked Questions Regarding H-2B Applications Mailed to the Chicago NPC 

QUESTION: I am an employer impacted by the iCERT system failure that occurred in the early morning of January 1, 2019. May I submit my H-2B application by mail to the Chicago National Processing Center (NPC)?

ANSWER: Yes. In accordance with 20 CFR 655.15(c), an employer may submit the H-2B Application for Temporary Employment Certification and all required supporting documentation to the NPC either electronically or by mail. An employer submitting by mail must send the H-2B application to the address listed below.

Office of Foreign Labor Certification
Chicago National Processing Center
11 West Quincy Court
Chicago, IL 60604-2105
ATTN: H-2B Program Unit

The Chicago NPC does not accept hand delivered applications.

QUESTION: I am an employer who mailed an H-2B application to the Chicago NPC and I understand from the Department of Labor's June 1, 2018, public announcement that applications are assigned to analysts based on the calendar date and time on which the applications are received. What procedures does the Chicago NPC use for mailed-in applications and how are the receipt dates and times affixed to these applications?

ANSWER: The Chicago NPC receives two shipments of mail each business day; one at approximately 10:00AM Central Standard Time (CST) and a second one at 2:00PM CST. For each shipment received, consistent with standard operating procedures, the Chicago NPC opens each mail item and establishes a receipt date. The following summarizes how the Chicago NPC handles mailed-in applications:

  • Each application is assigned to a Chicago NPC data entry clerk;
  • All data from each mailed-in application is fully entered into the iCERT system by an assigned data entry clerk based on the receipt date;
  • Each application is assigned a date and timestamp based on the date and time the Chicago NPC data entry clerk submits the application after completing the data entry, not the date the application is originally received at the Chicago NPC; and
  • After each application is submitted for processing by the Chicago NPC data entry clerk, the iCERT system issues a courtesy email notification that includes the date and timestamp of submission.

Important Note: As a result of the process described above, applications sent by mail will generally be filed in the system more slowly. The opening of mail and subsequent timely entry of the mailed-in applications is highly sensitive to the level of data entry resources available at the Chicago NPC. Submitting identical applications electronically and by mail is also not recommended and it may delay the processing of your application.