The Program Electronic Review Management or PERM Labor certification process is a process run by the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA). The purpose of this process is to figure out whether an employer by hiring a non-US citizen is preventing an equally capable US worker from getting a similar job. Basically, the ETA determines if recruiting a non-US citizen to work in the role would have a negative impact on the employability and wages of US workers working in a similar role.
Those looking to hire a non-U.S. citizen have to first obtain a PERM certification before they can go ahead and file their Green Card or permanent resident card application i.e., filing the I-140 petition.
In this Guide we will look at the process of filing for a PERM labor certification, processing times, the documents and proof required, the fees for it and more.
PERM Application Process
Employers need to file a form 9089 to complete the PERM labor certification process. There are different ways to file for a PERM but in this Guide, we’ll be covering only the basic labor certification process as outlined in the instructions for form 9089.
To complete the PERM process, the employer needs to attest to the following:
That the job listing was made available to U.S. workers
That the wages offered to the prospective employee are greater than or equal to the “prevailing wages” for the given field:
To meet this condition, the employer must request a Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) from the State Workforce Agency (SWA) for the relevant state.
The employer is able to put the employee on its payroll either before or on the day of their arrival into the country.
That job applications from any US citizen were denied due to lawful reasons
That the wages are not dependent on bonuses, commissions, or financial incentives of any kind
That the wages offered are over and above the bonus or commission or other financial incentives. Unless the employer can prove that the employee will still earn wages that are grater than or equal to the prevailing wages
That the employer can actually pay the promised wages
That, in making this job offer, the employer did not discriminate based on age, sex, religion, race, creed, color, nationality, disability, or citizenship
That the job did not become available because of a strike or labor stoppage
That the working conditions and terms of employment meet any relevant legal standards (Including all Federal, state, and local statutes).
That the job in question is a full-time, permanent position
That the employer is not the same person as the non-U.S.-citizen
In addition to meeting the above basic requirements, the employer also has to conduct some “recruitment steps” prior to filing their application.
If the role is for a professional occupation i.e., it requires a person with at least a bachelor's degree or a similar experience to be hired then the employer at least has to place a job order with SWA for a minimum of 30 days, print at a minimum 2 advertisements in 2 separate Sunday editions of a popular newspaper and select 3 additional recruitment methods from the list below:
Advertisements on Television or Radio
Local and ethnic newspapers
Job listings on their own website
University campus recruitment
Job search sites (LinkedIn, Indeed etc.)
Incentivized employee referrals
College campus placement programs
For “nonprofessional occupations,” the employer must place a job order with SWA and print 2 newspaper advertisements.
All the recruitment activities must take place during the 6 months leading up to the filing date — but no less than 30 days prior.
The employer needs to give an advance notice that they’ll be submitting a PERM application. This notice can go either to a union representative of any current employees or if there’s no union representative, it has to go to the workers themselves at their place of employment.
Below are the conditions for the notice:
It must be given anytime between 30 and 180 days prior to submitting the PERM application.
It should contain he wages offered to the employee based on the prevailing wage
It must contain the address of the Certifying Officer handling the application.
It must state that anyone may send proof pertaining to the PERM application directly to the Certifying Officer.
It must state that a PERM application will soon be filed.
Once the above-mentioned requirements are met, and notice is given within the appropriate time frame, the employer may start filling out the permanent labor certification application.
As mentioned earlier, to file for a PERM labor certification the employer needs to fill and file the form 9089. The form can be submitted either online or through mail.
To obtain an approval, the employer needs to fill the form completely without missing any important information or document.
For auditing purposes, all paperwork gathered during the application process should be kept for a minimum of 5 years following the submission of Form 9089.
There are a lot of other documents and rules that the person filling the form needs to take care of. However, those are not in the hands of the employees and hence we’re not adding that information here.
What you need to know is that employer will provide the employee details such as their role, their position, the address, their phone number and other information regarding their work experience.
Once the Form 9089 is complete, and all the above requirements have been satisfied, the employer may submit their application.
PERM Processing Times
The average PERM processing times as of 2021 is around 150 days or approximately 5-6 months. However, it can vary from situation to situation.
DOL has stated that a quicker turn around time can be expected if the PERM is filed online using the Permanent Online System using the User Guide here
While the cost to file the PERM or form 9089 is free. The employer has to bear a lot of other overhead costs such as:
Advertisements in the newspaper
Ads on online job portals
Cost of hiring a lawyer to file the form since most employers hand it out to an immigration attorney
Once the PERM is approved, they also have to bear the cost of filing the petition for Green Card with USCIS i.e., I-140.
And other miscellaneous expenses
I-140 for Green Card: Employer’s Application for Immigrant Visa and Proof of Ability to Pay:
Once a PERM application is certified (approved) by DOL the employer must file an I-140 Immigrant Worker Petition with the USCIS within six months of the approval date of the PERM application.
The employer is required to show that it has the ability to pay the wage offered and that the foreign national possesses the education, experience and skills required in the PERM application.
The employer’s attorney will help determine what documents are needed to support this filing and prepare the filing.
USCIS processing time for an I-140 Petition is typically four to six months. However, for an additional $1,225 filing fee, the USCIS will adjudicate the petition via “premium processing” (15 calendar days).
If the USCIS requests additional evidence (RFE) in order to process the I-140 Petition, an additional thirty to sixty days could be added to the processing time or an additional 15 calendar days, if premium processing was requested.