What is PERM?
In order for US employers to hire certain foreign nationals and sponsor their immigration to the US, they must receive labor certification from the US Department of Labor (DOL). Among other things, the labor certification process ensures that US employers are not displacing US workers by hiring foreign employees, are not creating positions specifically tailored to a foreign employee's skill set and are offering competitive wages to foreign employees. In March 2005, the DOL created a new system that was meant to simplify the process for employers seeking labor certification for foreign employees, known as PERM.
Under the new process, employers only have to file one form (ETA Form 9089) electronically in order to apply for labor certification for full-time, permanent foreign employees. As part of the PERM process, employers are required to meet certain requirements prior to filing their labor certification application, including:
- Requesting a prevailing wage determination from the appropriate State Workforce Agency (SWA) or other approved agency in the jurisdiction of the proposed employment
- Completing a detailed recruitment report that provides information about the steps the employer took to recruit US workers for the position (under federal regulations, employers are required to take specific measures to recruit American workers for the open positions, dependent on the type of job)
Once employers have the prevailing wage determination and the recruitment report, they can submit the Application for Permanent Employment Certification (ETA Form 9089) through the Department of Labor's Web site.
As part of the PERM process, employers must be able to meet a number of requirements in order to receive labor certification. For example, the position must be for a full-time, permanent position. The employer must pay the prevailing wage to the foreign employee as would be offered to an American employee with the same job responsibilities. Through the recruitment report, the employer must be able to prove that there are no willing, able, qualified and available American workers to fill the position. Also, the employer must be able to show that by hiring a foreign worker, similarly-situated American workers will not be displaced or their wages or working environment adversely affected.
If an employer receives certification from the DOL, the employer next must file an Immigrant Petition for an Alien Worker (Form I-140) with the US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). If the petition is approved, then the US Department of State will assign an immigrant visa number to the foreign employee. At that time, the foreign employee also may apply for immigrant visas for his or her spouse and any unmarried, minor children to join the employee in the US.
The process for sponsoring foreign employees for permanent residence can be complicated and time-consuming. For more information on the PERM process, hiring foreign workers or other immigration matters, contact a skilled immigration attorney in your area.
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