“Labor certification” is the most common employment-based opportunity for obtaining a green card. Labor certification requires a U.S. employer to prove that there are no minimally qualified U.S. workers for the position for which the foreign employee is hired. Once the U.S. Department of Labor “certifies” this application, the employer will be able to apply to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (CIS) for permanent residency (a “green card“) for the foreign employee.
Labor certification must be considered in two time frames. Applications filed before March 28, 2005, will be processed either under standard procedures or under Reduction in Recruitment (“RIR”). Applications filed on or after March 28, 2005, will be processed under a completely new program called Program Electronic Review Management, more commonly known as PERM.
PERM Labor Certification was intended to reduce the time it takes for labor certification. Under PERM, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is wholly responsible for the review and adjudication of labor certification applications and the State Workforce Agencies (SWA) are no longer involved in the review process. PERM was officially promulgated on December 27, 2004, and the first approval under PERM was obtained on May 23, 2005 from the Chicago PERM Processing Center.
Under PERM, employers will obtain a Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) from the applicable State Workforce Agency (SWA) and recruit for the open position. The employer must pay at least 100 percent of the prevailing wage offered in the area of intended employment. If no able, qualified, and willing U.S. workers apply for the position, the employer will complete and submit (online or by mail) a detailed form about the job duties, minimum requirements, wages, recruitment efforts, recruitment results, etc. to one of the two DOL PERM processing centers (Chicago or Atlanta). The DOL processing centers will conduct a quick anti-fraud check (that the employer has a valid business employing staff as reported in the application) and if the application is not selected for audit, the DOL will certify the application.