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[Federal Register: October 6, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 194)]
[Page 59335-59336]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access []

[[Page 59335]]


Part V

Department of Labor


Employment and Training Administration


 Foreign Labor Certification; Reduction-in-Recruitment (RIR) 
Conversion; Extension of the RIR Eligibility Date; Notice

[[Page 59336]]



Employment and Training Administration

Foreign Labor Certification; Reduction-in-Recruitment (RIR) 
Conversion; Extension of the RIR Eligibility Date

AGENCY: Employment and Training Administration, Labor.

ACTION: Notice.


SUMMARY: This Notice provides information regarding Foreign Labor 
Certification: Reduction-in-Recruitment (RIR) Conversion; Extension of 
the RIR Eligibility Date, and Amendments to General Administration 
Letter No. 2-02. It is directed to the Office of Foreign Labor 
Certification (OFLC) National Processing Center Directors, OFLC-Backlog 
Elimination Center Directors, and State Workforce Agency Directors 
(Prevailing Wage). The purpose of this Notice is to extend the 
eligibility date the Department of Labor (Department) uses for 
determining whether RIR re-application requests are timely.


I. References

    20 CFR 656.21 (2001); 69 FR 43716 (July 21, 2004); 66 FR 40584 
(Aug. 3. 2001); General Administration Letter (GAL) No. 07-97; GAL No. 
2-02 Attachment B; and Training and Employment Notice (TEN) No. 12-05.

II. Background

    Under regulations governing the Permanent Labor Certification 
Program in effect prior to March 28, 2005, the Department processed 
most employer applications for permanent certification under a 
``Traditional Recruitment'' (TR) standard. Under this process, 
employers seeking to test their local labor markets for available, 
qualified United States workers were supervised in their recruitment 
    The TR process often took extensive time to complete and 
contributed to the growing number of backlog cases. Therefore, the 
Department began to encourage employers to utilize the streamlined 
``Reduction-in-Recruitment'' (RIR) process. On August 3, 2001, the 
Department published a final rule at 66 FR 40584 establishing a process 
for converting TR labor certification applications into RIR 
applications for the permanent employment of aliens in the United 
States. This regulation amended 20 CFR 656.21(i)(6) and included a 
provision allowing employers to convert TR cases they filed on or 
before August 3, 2001, to RIR applications, at their option.
    The Department has found the RIR application processing time takes 
significantly less time than the TR application processing time. The TR 
processing time delays the filing process for employers because they 
may be required to wait for up to nine months or longer to receive a 
resolution (denial or certification) of their case. Accordingly, the 
Department has encouraged employers to use the RIR process to expedite 
the labor certification filing process. Such conversions allow an 
employer to complete its recruitment prior to filing a permanent labor 
certification application, thus shortening the time potentially 
required to reach a determination in any given case.
    The Department initiated the RIR process via non-regulatory 
guidance in General Administration Letter (GAL) 1-97. Subsequent to the 
publication of the final RIR conversion rule in 2001, the Department 
issued additional, updated guidance to advise on and encourage use of 
the process through GAL No. 2-02, which originally expired on November 
30, 2004. Later, the Department extended the expiration date for GAL 
No. 2-02 through December 31, 2006 in TEN No. 12-05. Neither of these 
later guidance documents extended the original August 3, 2001, deadline 
for conversion to RIR procedures in the final rule.
    On July 21, 2004, the Department published an Interim Final Rule at 
69 FR 43716 (effective August 20, 2004) granting the Employment and 
Training Administration's (ETA) Division of Foreign Labor Certification 
(now the Office of Foreign Labor Certification) the discretion to 
transfer permanent labor certification applications pending in state 
workforce agencies and ETA regional offices to centralized Backlog 
Elimination Centers (BECs) for processing. ETA opened the BECs in 
October 2004. The Department's goal is to have all backlogged permanent 
labor certification applications eliminated by September 30, 2007.
    In December 2004, the Department amended 20 CFR part 656 again 
through 69 FR 77386 (Dec. 27, 2004). This regulatory amendment had the 
affect of removing the RIR conversion date in the current Code of 
Federal Regulations, but did not affect the processing of cases filed 
prior to March 28, 2005. For those purposes, the previous regulation 
remains in effect.

III. Policy Guidance

    To further assist its backlog elimination goal, the Department has 
determined the RIR conversion date at section 656.21(i)(6) of the 
previous regulation should be extended. Given the extensive backlog of 
older cases, which remains even with the implementation of a 
streamlined labor certification process, the Department has determined 
that it would be contrary to the public interest to delay 
implementation of this change and to withhold this benefit from 
applications filed under the regulation in effect prior to March 28, 
    By announcement of this Notice in the Federal Register, the 
Department is allowing employers that filed their applications before 
the removal of 20 CFR 656.21(i)(6) to process their applications under 
the RIR process with the exception of those cases that are already 
being processed under 20 CFR 656.21(f)(1) of the basic labor 
certification process. As a result, GAL No. 2-02 will remain in effect 
for RIR conversion purposes for applications filed on or before March 
27, 2005. Further, the Department will process RIR conversions using 
the same process it currently uses in the backlog centers.

IV. Action Required

    Effective on October 6, 2006, Backlog Elimination Center Directors 
are required to:
    A. Provide this guidance to appropriate staff.
    B. Apply these procedures for handling employer requests to convert 
TR applications received by state workforce agencies on or before March 
27, 2005, to RIR applications unless the exception described in 
paragraph 4(C) below applies.
    C. Exception: These procedures do not apply to any traditional 
recruitment cases that are already being processed under 20 CFR 
656.21(f)(1) of the basic labor certification process and which 
recruitment (i.e. a job order) has been initiated by the BEC.

V. Inquiries

    Inquiries related to the implementation of this guidance should be 
directed to the appropriate Backlog Elimination Center in Philadelphia 
at (484) 270-1500 or Dallas at (214) 237-9111.
    This information is also released in the form of a Training and 
Employment Guidance Letter (TEGL), which is available at http://wdr/

    Signed at Washington, DC, this 28th day of September, 2006.
Emily Stover DeRocco,
Assistant Secretary, Employment and Training Administration, Labor.
 [FR Doc. E6-16543 Filed 10-5-06; 8:45 am]