In a recent meeting, USDOL has stated:
...As of late January 2009, DOL is processing cases with priority dates in June 2008, cases in the audit queue with priority dates in August 2007, and cases in the appeal queue of April 2007....
One of the reasons that case processing slowed in the 4th quarter of 2008 was that DOL was hiring and training contractor staff for the Atlanta National Processing Center. The contract was awarded last summer, a losing contractor appealed and won the appeal, then the initial contractor sued. The workers did not come on board until last September 2008. The Atlanta Processing Center has only 40 federal employees and the rest of the staff consists of contractors. With the contractors now in place, the pace of processing has picked up. Only 4,571 PERM applications were completed in October-December 2008 but 3,500 PERM applications were completed in January 2009. However, DOL expects this will level off and processing rates will slow down again because of the limited number of federal employees available to review the contractors’ work.