PERM: The Labor Certification Process
What is Labor Certification (PERM, EB-2/EB-3)?
The Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) is the system used for obtaining the Labor Certification and is the first step to obtaining one of the employment-based immigrant visas (Green Card). It is also known as PERM or Labor Certification.
Labor Certification requires a U.S. employer to prove that there are no minimally qualified U.S. workers for the position. Once the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) "certifies" this application, the employer will be able to apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for permanent residency (a "green card") for the foreign employee.
The PERM process is essentially a test of the U.S. labor market to demonstrate that the foreign worker is not impacting U.S. workers or the U.S. labor market in a negative way. For PERM purposes, U.S. workers include U.S. citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents (green card holders), and noncitizens who are legally authorized to work permanently in the United States. The process demonstrates to the DOL that U.S. workers are not being displaced or disadvantaged.
Here are the steps in a PERM-based green card process:
Labor Certification (see below)
Form I-140; and
Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing (green card).
Steps In the Labor Certification/PERM Process
File the Prevailing Wage Requestion (ETA 9141) with the Department of Labor;
Conducting Recruitment – once the prevailing wage is issued, then the employer will advertise the position to the public to determine whether there are any willing, able, qualified, and available U.S. workers to fill the position;
Cool Off Period; and,
File the ETA 9089, Application for Permanent Employment Certification.
The total time for the above steps is currently estimated between 12-18 months based on the Department of Labor published processing times.
Only after the Labor Certification process can you proceed to the next step: filing the I-140 and I-485 applications (green card applications may be filed with USCIS if a visa number is available).
Alternatively, once the Form I-140 is approved, a beneficiary, spouse, and children under 21 may all apply for their green cards. This final step can occur through filing for an adjustment of status with USCIS if the individuals are currently in the United States in a valid status or by consular processing their immigrant visas with the Department of State at a U.S. Consulate or Embassy abroad. Every family member at this stage must file their own application.
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