Labor Certification Application (“LCA”) and H-1B Filing
On April 15, 2009, the Department of Labor (“DOL”) launched its iCERT Portal, creating a new electronic system for the submission of Labor Condition Applications. The first step for an employer in an H-1B filing is to obtain an LCA certification from DOL. The LCA is completed on electronic Form ETA 9035E through the DOL iCERT Visa Portal System.
United States Customs and Immigration Service (“USCIS”) does not accept an H-1B petition without a certified LCA. USCIS begins accepting H-1B Cap petitions on April 1, and there has been an enormous rush in H-1B filings in the past few years. The Cap quota is usually exhausted in the first five days leading to a lottery system. Not having a Certified LCA on time can render an H-1B employer unable to file on time, and as a result not qualifying a petition to be accepted in the H-1B cap lottery system.
First Time H-1B Employers (Petitioners)
H-1B employers who routinely file LCAs through the iCERT portal will have their Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) already registered and verified by the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (“OFLC”), a division of DOL. However, OFLC might not have FEINs for certain employers registered and verified in their database–especially first-time H-1B filers.
For these H-1B employers, LCAs will not be certfied unless the employer’s Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) can be verified by the OFLC. If the employer or their attorney tries submitting an LCA through the iCERT portal, the OFLC system would flag the FEIN entry as an error, due to non-verification. Employer or their attorney representative might get an email from OFLC, that the LCA would not be certified, and further instructions would be provided to submit by fax, e-mail as a PDF, or mail to the Chicago NPC, documents that indicate the validity of the FEIN.
Documents an H-1B Employer should submit for FEIN Verification
- Letter from IRS noting assignment of the FEIN
- Federal or state tax return with preprinted label, or a pre-printed tax coupon
- Documentation from employer’s financial institution showing FEIN
- Articles of incorporation, business license, or other certifications of business existence
- State corporate registration documents
- Other official or government documents
- Other documents showing FEIN and name of employer
While it is not necessary to submit all the documents in the above list, atleast two documents showing the FEIN would suffice.The FEIN should be clearly visible on the visible on the supporting document.
Submission of FEIN Verification Documents to OFLC/DOL
Employer or their attorney representative should email the scanned documents to DOL, using the address LCA.Chicago@dol.gov. The subject of the email should be “LCA Business Verification Team.” Please note using any other subject line is used, might lead to a significant delay in FEIN verification.
Why should an H-1B Employer begin FEIN Verification way ahead of time?
An employer who intends to file for H-1B, does not have a wait for a specific time to apply for FEIN verification with the DOL. It can be done at any time. However, during the H-1B cap filing season, OFLC/DOL is backlogged with tons of FEIN Verification requests. As a result, it can sometimes take longer than 5-6 days to get a FEIN Verification. There can also be some delay if DOL requests for additional documents for verification. Hence is it is recommended that H-1B employers not wait until the end, but rather get the verification done way ahead of time.