U.S. employers who wish to hire foreign physicians on a temporary or permanent basis must go through labor certification programs administered by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) in cooperation with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Certification can be obtained when an employer can demonstrate that there are not enough qualified U.S. workers to perform the needed work at wages equal or higher than the prevailing wage for the position the employer needs filled. In this three-part series we will discuss general requirements for labor certification, as well as requirements as they pertain to H-1B professional workers and permanent workers.
Obtaining labor certification is the responsibility of the employer, not the foreign physician, and normally requires approval from several government agencies:
- An employer must apply for labor certification through the DOL;
- Upon application certification (approval), employer must petition USCIS for a visa (note that certification by DOL does not guarantee issuance of a visa);
- The U.S. Department of State (DOS) will issue an immigrant visa number to the foreign physician, who must establish their admissibility to the U.S. in accordance with the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Although labor certification procedures depend on the type of visa being requested, such as H-1B or Permanent Resident (Green Card), there are some basic requirements that are the same for all labor certification applications:
- The employer must identify the need to hire a foreign physician to fill a full-time job vacancy and establish that the vacancy meets the qualifying criteria for the selected labor certification program;
- The employer must complete the appropriate application form for the requested program;
- The employer must make sure the foreign physician will be paid a wage equal to or above the prevailing wage for the specified position (employers can visit http://www.flcdatacenter.com/ to determine a position's prevailing wage);
- The employer must ensure they understand the compliance issues required when signing and submitting a labor certification application;
- The employer must then send the completed application and all required attachments to the designation DOL office for the requested program.