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Seventh Circuit Affirms Time Limits on Labor Certifications


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed (PDF) a Department of Labor amended regulation setting time limits on grants of labor certification. Specifically, the amended regulation states that an approved permanent labor certification granted on or after July 16, 2007, expires if not filed in support of an I-140 petition within 180 calendar days of the date the Department granted the certification, and that an approved permanent labor certification granted before July 16, 2007, expires if not filed in support of an I-140 petition within 180 calendar days of July 16, 2007.

Between March 2001 and May 2007, 14 unaffiliated Illinois businesses filed applications for labor certification on behalf of 15 potential employees. Thirteen were approved before the amended regulation took effect on July 16, 2007; the other two were approved after that date. After the Department of Homeland Security rejected eight of the workers’ visa petitions because of expired labor certifications, the 14 businesses and 15 workers sued the Departments of Labor and Homeland Security. Among other things, the plaintiffs sought a judgment that the Department of Labor’s promulgation of the amended regulation was beyond its authority or, alternatively, that retroactive application of the amended regulation was unlawful. The eight workers also sought a writ of mandamus against the Department of Homeland Security to compel the agency to process their visa petitions.

The Seventh Circuit ruled in favor of the government, noting among other things that when the Department of Labor amended its regulation to establish a 180-day time limit for previously approved labor certifications, the plaintiffs’ right to the certifications’ indefinite validity ended, and the plaintiffs did not possess any vested right that the amended regulation could impair.

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