Employers in the United States that wish to hire foreign workers must complete the U.S. Department of Labor’s Permanent Labor Certification (“PERM”) process before they can offer positions to foreign workers. The process is designed to determine whether recruiting foreign workers would have a detrimental impact of the wages and working conditions of U.S. persons employed in similar positions, and to ensure that U.S. persons have a fair shot at securing these available positions.
The PERM process requires employers to jump through several hoops in order to hire foreign workers, including:
- Obtaining a Prevailing Wage Determination from a Department of Labor State Workforce Agency (“SWA”). This determination confirms what the wages for this type of position should be in the current market.
- Following specific requirements for a generalized recruitment process. In addition to posting the job listing with the relevant SWA, employers must also advertise through traditional recruitment channels like a local newspaper, radio or TV commercials, and job fairs. This ensures that U.S. job hunters will have the opportunity to apply for the position.
- Applying for Permanent Employment Certification with the Department of Labor; and finally
- Petitioning for the foreign national.
Because both labor and immigration agencies are involved, and because the law requires many specific actions to be taken within specific timeframes, the process is complex and can take quite a long time to complete. Working with an experienced immigration attorney is essential as there are many pitfalls that can prove fatal to the case at either the labor or immigration phases of the process.
While there are many logistical challenges involved with the PERM process, it is meant to protect U.S. workers and provide integrity to the system which allows employers to hire foreign workers. Understanding the reason for the complicated legal requirements is the first step towards successfully hiring foreign workers for permanent positions.
To better understand if the PERM process is a good fit for your company, or for help navigating the process, be sure to consult with an immigration attorney who regularly handles these matters.