There are many ways in which someone can legally immigrate to the United States. One way is using an employment-based immigration visa, in which employment with a company allows an individual to obtain a green card to reside in the United States on a permanent basis. A green card affords immigrants residency in the United States, but does not provide citizenship and the privileges that come with being a U.S. citizen.
There are various employment-based (EB) visa categories for people seeking entry into the United States on a permanent basis. They include
- EB-1, a first priority category meant for individuals with an extraordinary ability in their field
- EB-2, a second priority category for individuals with advanced degrees or national interest waivers
- EB-3, a third priority category for individuals who are considered skilled workers, professionals, or other types of workers
There are additional categories for other special types of workers. However, those are less common.
Both EB-2 and EB-3 visas require a PERM labor certification. The process of receiving a PERM can be lengthy and is often confusing. Here, we’ll discuss the PERM certification, the green card processing time, and how an experienced immigration attorney can help.
What are PERM certifications?
PERM labor certifications are the first step of the complex process of filing for a green card through employment-based immigration. PERM is an acronym for “Program Electronic Review Management” and is required before an employer can hire an immigrant worker on a permanent basis. The employer must follow a standardized process to test the U.S. labor market as a way to demonstrate that there are no qualified U.S. workers who are willing and able to take the position for which the employer is seeking to sponsor a foreign national.
Who qualifies for a PERM certification?
The U.S. Department of Labor requires that individuals have an offer of employment from an employer willing and able to complete the steps of the PERM process. The basic steps in the PERM process are as follows.
- Your employer defines your position’s duties and minimum requirements, including skill levels, education, and experience that are needed for the role.
- A Prevailing Wage Request is filed by your employer and based on this information, the Department of Labor determines how much you should be paid for the position based on the area where you intend to work and the average wage paid to similarly employed workers in your specific occupation.
- The employer begins the recruitment process, during which they must perform an extensive search for potential U.S.-based workers.
- After a 30-day mandatory waiting period has passed and no U.S. workers were found for the position, the employer files the ETA-9089 to apply for your PERM.
Provided an audit is not performed by the Department of Labor, the PERM processing time typically takes about six months. However, in the event of an audit, during which the Department of Labor takes a more detailed look at the application, the PERM and subsequent green card processing time can be significantly increased to upward of a year and a half.
How long does a PERM last?
Once approved, a PERM labor certification is valid for up to 180 days. Within this time period, your employer must file your I-140. It’s important to do so while the PERM is valid, because any I-140 applications submitted with expired PERM labor certifications are automatically rejected by USCIS.
What can make the process easier?
The process of waiting for your PERM to process can be stressful, but there are steps you can take to help track the process and keep yourself informed of updates along the way.
First, you can check the current PERM processing times online at the Department of Labor official website in order to plan your application accordingly.
Second, consider hiring an experienced immigration lawyer. While it may seem easy at first, getting your PERM processed can be confusing and lengthy, especially in the cases that involve audits or supervised recruitment. Having an experienced immigration attorney on your side can ensure all of your documentation is organized and submitted according to the law to maximize the chances of your PERM being processed as quickly as possible. In addition, immigration attorneys can inform you of any options available to your case that might help expedite the process.
When it comes to getting your work visa approved, it’s important to know what kind of timeline you’re looking at and how you can best situate yourself for the quickest processing time possible. If you’re looking to understand the PERM processing time or seeking additional information on the timeline for your EB-2 or EB-3 visa, schedule a consultation with Farmer Law today.