DOL to Modernize Recruitment and Application Requirements for the PERM Program

Before the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) may approve certain employment-based immigrant petitions, U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) must certify that (a) there are not sufficient U.S. workers who are able, willing, qualified and available at the time of application in the place where the individual is to perform the work, and that (b) the employment of the individual will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. This certification is accomplished through the permanent labor certification, filed and processed via the DOL’s Permanent Case Management System (PERM).

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the PERM regulations. Admittedly, DOL has not comprehensively examined and modified the permanent labor certification requirements and process since their inception ten years ago. Over the last ten years, much has changed in the country’s economy affecting employers’ demand for workers as well as the availability of a qualified domestic labor force. According to DOL, this past fiscal year, employers submitted over 70,000 PERM applications requesting foreign workers. The majority of those job openings were for professional occupations in the Information Technology and Science fields, DOL reports.

Over time, demands for labor have increased, and surpluses for various types of workers have changed. Advances in technology and information dissemination have dramatically altered common industry recruitment practices. DOL reports having received ongoing feedback that the existing regulatory requirements governing the PERM recruitment process frequently do not align with worker or industry needs and practices.

On January 8, 2015, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that it will be initiating a review of the labor certification program and relevant regulations. As part of this review, DOL will seek input on the current regulation, including how it could be modernized to be more responsive to changes in the national workforce. Specifically, DOL will seek input on the following:

  • Options for identifying labor force occupational shortages and surpluses and methods for aligning domestic worker recruitment requirements with demonstrated shortages and surpluses;
  • Methods and practices designed to modernize U.S. worker recruitment requirements;
  • Processes to clarify employer obligations to insure PERM positions are fully open to U.S. workers;
  • Ranges of case processing timeframes and possibilities for premium processing; and
  • Application submission and review process and feasibility for efficiently addressing nonmaterial errors.

DOL may also examine other aspects of the existing PERM regulations to further align the program design with the objectives of the U.S. immigration system and needs of workers and employers, and to enhance the integrity of the labor certification process.

It is not recommended that you or your employer pursue labor certification alone. Please contact one of our experienced attorneys who will guide you through PERM process.

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