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EIG Dispatch | February 5, 2016

February 8, 2016

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Processing Delays at the U.S. Office of Foreign Labor Certification
  • New Exemption from the LMIA Requirement for Television and Film Workers in Canada
  • UK Expands Registered Traveler Service

Processing Delays at the U.S. Office of Foreign Labor Certification

As preparations of H-1B Cap petitions ramp up, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) has announced technical problems with the iCERT Visa Portal System (iCERT System).  In a January 27, 2016 statement, the OFLC acknowledged that “the network infrastructure supporting the system is exhibiting performance issues that are significantly impacting our staff’s ability to process case actions for our employer customers.”

The delays are affecting the processing of H-1B, H-2B, and H-2A visa applications.  Prior to filing an H-1B petition, employers must submit a Labor Condition Application (LCA) to the Department of Labor, attesting to compliance with the requirements of the program.  LCAs must be filed electronically through the iCERT System.

Although the Department of Labor’s technical staff is working to resolve the issue, and improve iCERT System performance, this is another reminder for employers to plan ahead and identify current and future employees who will need H-1B visa sponsorship.  USCIS will begin accepting H-1B petitions under the Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 quota on April 1, 2016.

EIG will continue to monitor the situation and work with employers and employees, to have H-1B cap subject petitions ready for filing with USCIS on April 1.  Stay tuned to the Dispatch for the latest updates.


New Exemption from the LMIA Requirement for Television and Film Workers in Canada

Beginning February 17, 2016, foreign nationals working in Canada as essential production staff in the television and film industry may qualify for an exemption to the Labor Market Impact Assessment (LMIA) regulation included in Canada’s International Mobility Program.  Qualifying workers include necessary television and film production employees working on either foreign or Canadian productions, regardless of whether the production is entirely or partially filmed in Canada.  Eligible employees can submit an online work permit application, including support letters from the production company and the relevant union or guild.  This new exemption is intended to allow for easier mobility of employees in the television and film production industry who enter and work in Canada.


UK Expands Registered Traveler Service

The United Kingdom’s Registered Traveler service now includes travelers with passports from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. Taiwanese passport holders must have a personal ID number on the photo page of their passport.  This means that travelers with biometric passports may use the ePassport gates, are no longer required to complete a landing card, and may use the fast lanes at UK airports.  This change will reduce time at the border for many travelers, including business travelers who frequent the UK.

In order to use the service, travelers must apply online, be at least 18 years of age, and have a UK visa, or have been to the UK a minimum of 4 times in the previous 24 months.  Countries already part of the service include Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, and the United States.