On June 2, 2008, the U.S. Department of Labor announced that it has begun to audit all permanent labor certification applications filed by attorneys at Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen & Loewy LLP.
The DOL says that it is doing so because it has information indicating that in at least some cases the Fragomen firm may have improperly instructed clients who filed permanent labor certification applications to contact their attorney before hiring qualified U.S. workers.
Specifically, several recruitment forms drafted by Fragomen attorneys instructed their clients that “After interview, should any of the applicants appear to be qualified for the position, please contact a Fragomen attorney immediately to further discuss the candidate’s background as it relates to the requirements stated for said position.”
The DOL said they are going to audit all of Fragomen's permanent labor certification applications to see if anything illegal or improper was done.
The permanent labor certification process, established by the Immigration and Nationality Act, allows an employer to hire a foreign worker to work permanently in the United States, but only where it been established through a strict, detailed recruitment process that there is no qualified, willing and available U.S. worker to fill the position. According to the Department's regulations, the employer’s attorney is not supposed to be involved in the recruitment process (unless he or she is typically involved in the employer’s hiring). Audits of applications are one of the major tools the Department uses to ensure program integrity, and they are used to thoroughly examine applications to ensure that all program requirements have been properly followed. They are routine and regularly undertaken to ensure the program’s integrity.
“The department’s decision to further investigate these applications will help ensure the integrity of the permanent labor certification process and ultimately protect job opportunities for American workers,” said Gregory F. Jacob, solicitor of labor. “The department takes seriously its responsibility to ensure that American workers have access to jobs they are qualified and willing to do and that their wages and working conditions are not adversely affected by the hiring of foreign workers.”
The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) is now investigating the matter.