PERM Labor Certifications and the Green Card Process
Getting a green card or permanent residence through employment is, in general, a three step process. STEP ONE requires the US employer who is offering the job to the foreign worker to obtain a clearance from the U.S. Department of Labor. Such a clearance is granted after the sponsoring employer demonstrates to the Labor Department that it has conducted a suitable test of the labor market to locate a qualified, able, willing and available American worker for this particular, full-time offer job. Once this application process is completed, the Department of Labor will certify that the market was tested, no American worker was located and the sponsoring employer can move forward with STEP TWO of the green card process by filing its sponsorship petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). The foreign worker and his or her family can then make their personal applications to claim the green cards based on this sponsorship, STEP THREE.
STEP ONE: The process under which the alien labor certification application will me made is known by the acronym “PERM.” It involves a careful structuring and description of the job offered and its requirements, all designed to meet the employer’s specifications and also comply with the Labor Department’s specific guidelines. The foreign worker must, obviously, be qualified for the job as described. None of the experience which he or she may have acquired by working for the sponsoring company may be used. Any required education also must have been attained prior to joining the company. The foreign worker must provide reference letters verifying this qualifying experience.
Additionally, since the labor certification application centers around a test of the labor market for a prospective job opening, the employer must be able to demonstrate that at the time the recruitment was undertaken, it had the funds to pay the wage offered. This will require the US sponsoring employer to provide the company’s corporate federal income tax returns and/or quarterly wage reports. Note that because the labor certification process is a test of the job market, the US sponsoring employer cannot be a company owned by the foreign worker or any close relative.
The test of the labor market will consist of the following: (1) two advertisements in the local Sunday newspaper, (2) a posting of the job opportunity on the employer’s business premises and any in-house electronic media, (3) a computerized listing with the local unemployment office, (4) the possibility of three additional recruitment activities if the job is considered by the Department of Labor to be a professional position.
At the conclusion of this test of the market, the employer will submit an attestation to the Department of Labor which will describe the job, the requirements, the recruitment activities undertaken and the results. All of the documents which support this attestation should be maintained at the employer’s offices and provided to the Labor Department if requested. When the PERM is filed the foreign worker gets his or her place in the green card quota system.
STEP TWO: After the certification is granted, the next step is the filing of a petition with the Immigration Service. The employer must sign a petition and a letter confirming the offer of employment and submit its tax returns. The foreign worker must now submit proof of his or her qualifications for the job. If the foreign worker’s place in the quota has reached the front of the line, the steps 2 and 3 can be combined.
STEP THREE: After the petition is granted, the foreign worker and all of his or her accompanying family including spouse and unmarried children under 21 years old, will file their personal applications for permanent residence. If the foreign worker is legally in the United States, he or she may file this application with the USCIS and also request employment authorization for all applicants and permission to travel in and out of the US while the final applications are pending. To support these final applications for green cards, the applicants must now present copies of their personal documents such as birth and marriage certificates. The applications for permanent residence will be adjudicated and in most cases the green cards will arrive in the mail without any USCIS interview. If the foreign worker is not lawfully in the US, then the final processing will be completed at the US Consulate in the foreigner’s home country. The foreign national and the accompanying family would be granted Immigrant Visas with which to enter the US and be admitted as permanent residents of the US. The actual green cards will then come in the mail to the US address given by the foreign worker upon entry.