DOL Delays the Wage Rule and DOS Expands Interview-Waiver Eligibility
Delay of the effective date and transition period of the Wage Rule
The Department of Labor (DOL) will propose a regulation to further delay the Wage Rule that will significantly increase wage levels for H-1B and certain other workers as well as PERM applicants. Under the pre-publication version of DOL’s proposed rule, the agency will extend the effective date of the Wage Rule from May 14, 2021 to November 14, 2022 and delay the start of the transition period for adjustments to prevailing wage levels from July 1, 2021 to January 1, 2023.
The DOL had already delayed the effective date of the regulation from March 15, 2021 to May 14, 2021 and has proposed the delay to allow it more time to carefully analyze legal and policy issues raised by the rule, as well as sufficient amount of time to compute and validate prevailing wage data covering specific occupations and geographic areas. The DOL is scheduled to publish the official version of the proposed rule on March 22 and thereafter upon receiving public comments, publish a final rule delaying the wage regulation and its implementation date.
Expansion of In-person Interview Waiver
The Department of State (DOS) has temporarily expanded the ability of consular officers to waive the in-person interview requirement for individuals applying for a nonimmigrant visa in the same classification. Between now and December 31, 2021, consular officers will have the authority to waive interviews for nonimmigrant visa applicants who are applying in the same visa classification and whose previous visas expired within the past 48 months. Consular officers have discretion to grant these waivers and some applicants who meet the eligibility criteria may still have to appear for an interview if deemed necessary by an officer.
Previously, only those applicants whose nonimmigrant visa expired within 24 months were eligible for an interview waiver. Travelers should review the website of their nearest U.S. embassy or consulate for detailed information on what services are currently available as well as eligibility information and instructions on applying for a visa without an interview.