•Case Status Checks.Customers will be able to check the status of pending applications, as well as those in which a final determination has issued, at any time by accessing their iCERT accounts or using the “iCERT Case Status Check” function on the public iCERT Home Page.
Beginning on October 15, 2012, employers or their authorized representatives who choose to electronically file temporary labor certification applications under the H-2B program may do so through the iCERT System. Employers or their authorized representatives who choose to electronically file temporary labor certification applications under the H-2A program may do so through the iCERT System on or after December 10, 2012. Employers or their authorized representatives electing not to use this new electronic filing capability must file their H-2A and H-2B applications with the Department using the traditional paper-based filing method. Data from paper applications will be entered into the iCERT System's internal case management system by the NPC and processed in a similar manner as those filed electronically.
In preparation for the release of these electronic filing systems, employers or their authorized representatives who do not currently possess an iCERT account are encouraged to visit the system athttp://icert.doleta.govand begin the process of establishing an iCERTaccount with associate or sub-account users, as applicable. Note, however, that the new iCERT account for agricultural associations will not be available until implementation of the H-2A electronic filing system on December 10, 2012.
H-2A and H-2B Process Changes
There are important process changes concerning the documentation that must be submitted with the ETA Form 9142, as well as changes to the receipt of official labor certification determinations from the Department. The regulatory requirements regarding when to file an H-2A or H-2B application (e.g., after pre-filing recruitment steps are completed in the H-2B program) remain unchanged and are not affected by an employer or its authorized representative's decision to file electronically instead of by U.S. mail. In circumstances where duplicate applications are filed, such as where one application is filed electronically and that same application is filed by U.S. mail, the Chicago NPC will accept for processing the first application received and return the non-processed second application to the employer or the employer's authorized representative.
•Electronic Filing.The H-2A and H-2B regulations require that the ETA Form 9142 filed with the Chicago NPC must bear the original signature of the employer and the employer's authorized attorney or agent, if the employer is represented by an attorney or agent. 20 CFR 655.20(b), 655.130(d). Under the H-2A program, an association filing a master application as a joint employer may sign on behalf of its employer members. When filing an H-2A or H-2B application electronically, the iCERT account holder must upload a signed and dated copy of either the Appendix A.2 (for the H-2A program) or Appendix B.1 (for the H-2B program) and retain the original in its file. For job contractors filing under the H-2B program as joint employers with their employer-clients, a separate attachment containing the employer-client's business and contact information (i.e., Sections C and D of the ETA Form 9142) and a signed and dated Appendix B.1 are still required and must be uploaded prior to electronically filing the application. An ETA Form 9142, bearing original signatures, will no longer be required by the Chicago NPC at the time of filing, as the appropriate signed appendix will be uploaded directly into the iCERT System. Moreover, where an application is granted temporary labor certification, the employer and, if applicable, its attorney or agent, will be required to sign and date the appropriate appendix on the ETA Form 9142 issued from the Chicago NPC upon receipt. The employer's signature and, if applicable, that of its attorney or agent, on the Appendix A.2 or B.1, as appropriate, will satisfy the original signature requirement.
•Supporting Documentation.In addition to the ETA Form 9142 and applicable appendix, the H-2A and H-2B regulations require employers to submit all required supporting documentation at the time of filing. When filing an H-2A or H-2B application electronically, the iCERT account holder must, prior to submission of the application, upload scanned copies of all required supporting documentation that would normally be sent to the Chicago NPC by U.S. mail because the system will not permit document upload once the application has been submitted. For example, employers filing H-2B applications must also upload a copy of the recruitment report signed and dated by the employer. In addition, where the occupation is covered by special procedures, employers filing electronically must upload other required supporting documentation (e.g., FLC Certification of Registration, work itineraries). Under the H-2A program, employers must also upload a copy of the agricultural job order (ETA Form 790) submitted to the State Workforce Agency. If an agricultural employer has an authorized agent, the iCERT account holder must upload a copy of the agent agreement or other document demonstrating the agent's authority to represent the employer in the H-2A process, as required by H-2A regulations at 20 CFR 655.133. Similarly, agents who are subject to the Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act must upload copies of their FLC Certificate of Registration. Employers continuing to file by U.S. mail must also continue to submit all required documentation. To avoid any processing delays, the iCERT account holder is strongly encouraged to preview and check the ETA Form 9142 and all uploaded documents for completeness and accuracy before submitting the application. Any documentation required to be submitted after the application's submission, such as an H-2A recruitment report documenting positive recruitment efforts, must be filed by mail, email or fax, even if the application itself was submitted electronically.
•Surety Bonds for H-2A Labor Contractors (H-2ALCs).The H-2A regulations at 20 CFR 655.132(b)(3) require an H-2ALC to submit with its application the original surety bond serving as proof of its ability to discharge financial obligations under the H-2A program. Although the iCERT account holder may upload a scanned copy of the surety bond at the time of filing the H-2A application electronically, the Chicago NPC must receive the original surety bond associated with the H-2A application before granting certification. The regulatory requirement that the H-2ALC submit the original surety bond by U.S. mail remains unchanged, and the Chicago NPC will provide written notice reminding employers of this regulatory requirement upon acceptance of the ETA Form 9142 under 20 CFR 655.143.
•Approved Temporary Labor Certifications—Where the Chicago NPC Certifying Officer (CO) makes a determination to grant a temporary labor certification, the H-2A and H-2B regulations specify that the CO will send the certified ETA Form 9142 and a Final Determination letter to the employer or, if appropriate, to the employer's agent or attorney. For all H-2B applications filed on or after October 15, 2012, and for all H-2A applications filed on or after December 10, 2012, where the Chicago NPC CO has made a determination to grant a temporary labor certification, the employer will receive an original certified ETA Form 9142 and the appropriate Appendix issued on newly designed special security paper. A certified ETA Form 9142 is valid when it contains a completed Section K bearing the electronic signature of the OFLC Administrator, and a completed “For Department of Labor Use Only” footer on each page identifying the iCERT case number, determination status, and the validity period. Upon receipt of the original certified ETA Form 9142, the employer and, if applicable, the employer's agent or attorney, must promptly sign and date the appendix containing the requisite program assurances and obligations. Employers must submit original certifications received from the Department directly to the USCIS. However, employers whose applications are filed prior to the implementation of electronic filing (before October 15, 2012 for H-2B applications and before December 10, 2012 for H-2A applications) and whose applications are granted temporary labor certification will receive certifications in the currently established manner, even in those cases in which the grant of certification post-dates the implementation of electronic filing.
Training Webinars for Program Users
To assist agricultural associations, employers, authorized agents orattorneys, and the interested public in understanding how to use the iCERT System and file H-2A and H-2B applications electronically, the Department will hold four webinar training sessions in the coming months. In advance of the Department's implementation of the iCERT H-2B electronic filing module on October 15, 2012, the first two webinar sessions are tentatively scheduled for the week of October 1, 2012 to provide a technical demonstration on how to create or modify an iCERT account and file H-2B applications electronically. Similarly, in advance of the Department's implementation of the iCERT H-2A electronic filing module on December 10, 2012, the final two webinar sessions are tentatively scheduled for the week of November 26, 2012 to provide a technical demonstration on how employers, including agricultural associations, can create or modify their accounts and file H-2A applications electronically. Once the exact dates and times for the webinars are available, the Department will post public announcements, including details on how to register for each webinar, on the OFLC Web site athttp://www.foreignlaborcert.doleta.gov.Additional implementation resources (e.g., iCERT user manuals) designed to assist customers in establishing or modifying their iCERT accounts and how to file H-2A and H-2B applications electronically will be posted in advance of the webinars. We encourage the public to frequently check the OFLC Web site for updates and to sign up for email updates.
Help Desk Resources
For technical problems or other issues related to the creation and maintenance of iCERT System accounts and electronic filing of H-2A and H-2B applications, users should please contact the iCERT System Help Desk by sending an email firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, the Chicago NPC maintains a dedicated Help Desk Unit to handle program-related inquiries from employers or their representatives participating in the H-2A and/or H-2B programs. To contact the Chicago NPC Help Desk, please send an email toTLC.Chicago@dol.gov.
Dated: Signed at Washington, DC, on this 24th day of September, 2012.
Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training.