Labor Certification: The PERM Green Card Process

Last Updated on May 31, 2023

The PERM green card process exists to protect skilled U.S. workers from displacement by less-skilled foreign workers. Companies must prove that they took reasonable measures to first fill an open position with a U.S.-based worker.

This multi-step PERM green card process typically takes 18-24 months. However, this is an estimate and is subject to change due to fluctuations in government processing times.

EB-2 and EB-3 green cards require the PERM process. HR professionals should thoroughly understand the PERM process to help avoid any potential delays. For instance, you must complete the PERM certification prior to filing for a green card.

Numerous steps make up the PERM green card process, and you can split them into two stages:

  1. Recruitment
  2. Filing

Practice Pointer: Two years after an employee’s start date is when Envoy recommends HR professionals begin considering workers for green card sponsorship. Holding off longer than two years puts employees at risk of reaching their max-out dates and having to leave the U.S. before they obtain their green card – which could leave employers with a labor gap in a hard-to-fill position.

PERM Recruitment

Step 1 – Prevailing Wage Determination

Immigration law requires employers to pay foreign workers at least the prevailing wage once the foreign national receives his or her green card. Employers must send the existing job description to the Department of Labor’s (DOL) website to determine the prevailing wage. A DOL inspector will analyze the duties, skills and requirements associated with the job and respond with its determination as to the appropriate salary for the specified work and location.

PERM Job Description Tips

  • Avoid industry-specific jargon;
  • Focus on one role instead of multiple interdepartmental responsibilities;
  • If the job description is unclear, the DOL inspector may request additional information, leading to delays;
  • If the job description is too technical, the inspector may issue the highest wage determination, requiring the employer to increase the salary or rewrite the job description.

Practice Pointer: Generally, the DOL’s prevailing wage determination will be issued within seven to nine months; however, this is an estimate and is subject to change due to fluctuations in government processing times. The employer may submit a wage survey to the DOL as part of its request for prevailing wage determination. Attorneys must review the survey to ensure it meets the DOL’s strict criteria for currency and regional specificity. Prevailing wage determinations are also subject to DOL expiration dates.

Step 2 – PERM Recruitment

The job recruitment aspects of the PERM process must be completed precisely to help create the case for why a foreign worker is needed.

Completing the job order stage quickly is also important, as none of the advertisements can be older than 180 days at the time of filing the labor certification. A job order announces the availability of an open position to registered, unemployed workers in the state where the work is to be done.

Employers must place several recruitment advertisements, and each requires special details. The required recruitment advertisements are:

  • One (1) job order placed with a state workforce agency;
  • Two (2) Sunday advertisements in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of intended employment;
  • One (1) internal posting notice;
  • Three (3) additional advertisements from a predetermined list of options.

Placing a Job Order With a State Workforce Agency

  • The job order must be placed in the state of intended employment and run for 30 consecutive calendar days;
  • While most job orders are placed via an online portal through the state’s workforce agency, posting methods vary, so familiarize yourself with your state’s requirements;
  • The next steps cannot be completed without proper documentation and proof of this particular job advertisement.

Good news! All 50 states offer some form of online posting method for job orders. Envoy recommends printing and retaining proof that the job order ran as required for at least five years after the PERM process concludes.

Sunday Newspaper Advertisements

Employers must place two separate ads in a Sunday edition of a local newspaper. The ads may run in consecutive weeks as long as they’re documented.

Each ad must include the following:

  • The name of the employer;
  • The method by which applicants should submit resumes;
  • A description of the job requirements and basic duties;
  • Job location and other travel requirements.

Internal Posting Notice

Employers are required to alert their current employees if they are filing for labor certification and actively recruiting to fill that particular role.

You must communicate the notification of the posting across all normally used recruitment channels. Additionally, you must keep the posting up for at least 10 consecutive business days. This posting must contain the job title, duties, requirements and specific language as mandated by the DOL.

HR teams should document internal responses to the posting, along with all additional applications and/or resumes they receive. Document and save these materials for at least five years because the DOL may request them during an audit.

Known as the cooling-off period, once all job postings are completed, employers must wait at least 30 days before moving to the next step in the PERM process. This gives the U.S. job market time to respond to any advertisements.

Additional Job Advertisements

Employers must choose three additional advertising options to complete the recruitment stage of the PERM process. The most common options for these advertisements are:

  • Placing the ad on the company’s website;
  • Placing the ad with a job-search site (e.g., LinkedIn, Monster, CareerBuilder, etc.);
  • Offering an employee referral program.

To simplify the process, you can reuse the language in the ad you previously placed in the Sunday newspaper advertisements.

No time requirement exists for the posting of these additional job ads. However, recommended runtime is at least 10 consecutive calendar days to avoid any issues in processing.

It is also important to be meticulous about documenting all resumes and applications received and retain the proof of all advertisements placed for at least five years.

Keep a report that details all steps taken throughout the recruitment process to assist in the event of a DOL audit.

PERM Green Card Filing Process

Once you complete all steps in the recruitment stage, it is time for the PERM green card filing process. The PERM application is ready for filing by you submitting the Permanent Employment Certification form, ETA 9089, via the DOL website.

The ETA 9089 includes the following:

  • Standard information about the job duties, requirements, location, prevailing wage, etc.;
  • The employer’s detailed recruitment process and all necessary documentation of its completion per PERM guidelines;
  • Supporting information regarding the foreign national as the leading candidate to fill the role.

The current processing time is approximately 10 months. However, this is an estimate and is subject to change due to fluctuations in government processing times.

Following submission of the ETA 9089, the PERM application may be approved, audited or denied.

Safeguard against PERM issues by contacting Envoy for information on how our proprietary and specialized PERM process can help organize, manage and monitor all aspects of the certification process. See how you can modernize your PERM recruitment process.

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Content in this publication is for informational purposes only and not intended as legal advice, nor should it be relied on as such. For additional information on the issues discussed, consult an attorney at one of the two U.S. Law Firms working with the Envoy Platform or another qualified professional. On non-U.S. immigration issues, consult an Envoy global immigration service provider or another qualified representative.