In line with President Obama’s series of executive actions on immigration reform announced in late November, one major change includes PERM improvements among other things. The President’s efforts to modernize the Permanent Labor Certification Process is vital to U.S. commerce and international relations with foreign workers. We’ve put together an outline of anticipated PERM improvements. Our hope is that these modifications will go into effect sooner rather than later to make the process more efficient all around.
Brief Introduction on PERM Labor Certification
A Permanent Labor Certification, issued by the Department of Labor (DOL), basically permits an employer to hire foreign workers to work legally in the U.S. Prior to submitting an immigration petition (I-140) to USCIS, the employer must first be granted a certified labor certification from the Employment and Training Administration (ETA) indicating that there are not enough competent U.S. workers available (or qualified) with the skills to fulfill the job position within the given geographical area. Also, the DOL must acknowledge that by hiring the foreign worker, it will in no way negatively impact the wages and/or conditions of comparable workers in the U.S. The last changes to the PERM Labor Certification were enacted on December 27, 2004 which improved the processing time and program. Those changes went into effect on March 28, 2005, nearly ten years ago.
Current PERM Labor Certification Requirements
As it stands, the current PERM Labor Certification Requirements include:
- A job offer on behalf of a U.S. based employer
- Wages that are equal or higher than the Department of Labor’s prevailing wage.
- Proof that there are not qualified, capable U.S. workers available for the job. Additional documents may be required to show proof of recruitment efforts.
Additional details regarding labor certification can be found here.
Anticipated PERM Improvements
Since the PERM process was last updated in 2005, there have been key changes in the way business operate and the DOL acknowledges that the PERM labor certification needs to be modernized to accommodate today’s workforce and technologies. In particular, the Department of Labor is focusing on PERM improvements in the following areas:
- Techniques for identifying shortages of labor and/or surpluses
- Strategies to match the recruitment requirements with the surpluses or shortages in a given industry
- How to update the recruitment requirements in general
- Options for premium processing and processing cases in a timely manner
- Identifying non-material errors in the application process and optimizing the review process
No Changes in Effect Yet
It’s necessary to note that the aforementioned changes have yet to go into effect and we cannot at this time announce when formal action will be taken. Instead, we’re acknowledging which areas the DOL hopes to make PERM improvements to. Formal changes will go into effect once a framework is solidified and all options have been explored by the various governmental agencies.
Summary of PERM Improvements
Acquiring a green card by means of employment is often a rigorous process that first begins with filing a PERM Labor Certification. The anticipated PERM Improvements are would be a great advantage to foreign nationals and likewise, employers within the United States seeking qualified professionals. Taking into account all the facets of the President’s immigration initiatives somewhere close to 4.9 million individuals are expected to be affected from the executive action. Furthermore, if the necessary changes are enacted it would mean a smoother recruitment process, quicker processing and approval times and fewer delays as the result of non-material submission mistakes.