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What are PERM Sponsorships?

August 27, 2023
  • Business Immigration

by Natalie McQuilkin

Are you a business owner, looking to hire talented workers outside of the United States? 

Or are you a foreign national who dreams of traveling to the U.S. to pursue new opportunities?  

Today on our blog we would like to share with you information about an immigration program that could make all of this possible: the Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) labor certification, which allows U.S. Businesses to hire outside the United States. Better still for those looking to come here – the PERM labor certification could create a pathway for you to obtain U.S. Residency.  

To begin, what are PERM Sponsorships? 

In March 2005 the Department of Labor (DOL) created the PERM labor certification. This certification requires a “sponsor,” or an employer, who seeks to hire a foreign worker because they can show their business is unable to obtain skilled, willing, or available U.S. citizen workers in their area, despite recruitment efforts.  

The Steps of PERM Labor Certification 

The PERM labor certification is broken into three steps: 

  1. obtaining the labor certification 
  1. submitting the Form I-140, 
  1. submitting Form I-485 

Let’s briefly talk about each step:  

Obtaining the PERM Labor Certification:  

  • Establishing a Prevailing Wage 

To obtain PERM labor certification, sponsors must establish what is called a “prevailing wage,” or the average amount paid to the specific job they are looking to hire for in their area. Sponsors must retrieve information about the prevailing wage by filing the DOL’s Form ETA-9141, the Application for Prevailing Wage Determination, with the National Prevailing Wage Center. This form requires the sponsor to provide information about where the job will be located, what qualifications are required for the job, and what the job will entail. Once the National Prevailing Wage Center sends the employer the prevailing wage based off these factors, the employer can move on to the next step: job advertising and recruitment.  

  • Job Advertising and Recruitment 

The PERM labor certification requires employers to prove that they have attempted to hire U.S. citizen workers within six months of filing for the PERM labor certification. Employers must place a job posting with the State Workforce Agency for 30 days and place a job advertisement in two consecutive Sunday editions of a local newspaper. Where these ads should be placed is something you should discuss with a business immigration professional, because the rules change depending on the role you are hiring for. After making the effort to recruit strong U.S. citizen candidates, employers can send evidence to the DOL that they tried, and that instead, they would like to sponsor a foreign worker for the position. If the DOL approves the certification, then employers can move onto the next step, which is filing the Form I-140. 

Form I-140 

Once the PERM labor certification is approved by the DOL, it remains valid for 180 days. However, simply having the PERM labor certification does not enable foreign workers to work legally in the United States. The next step is for the sponsor to file Form I-140, the Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker, with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). To complete this form a sponsor will need to provide financial information which proves they are able to pay the prevailing wage to the foreign job candidate they wish to hire. The sponsor will also submit documents that prove their candidate has the qualifications the need for the role, things like academic records, recommendation letters from former employers and training certifications.   

Form I-485 

If the candidate is already living in the U.S. on a work visa, they are ready to file their form I-485, Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status, as soon as USCIS approves their form I-140. After reviewing the application USCIS will schedule an interview with the candidate to ask questions about their personal and work background. They will then issue him or her a green card. However, if the candidate lives in a foreign country when they receive their approved Form I-140, they will first have to send their application to the National Visa Center (NVC) and wait to receive an appointment. The NVC will review the application, then schedule an interview for the candidate at their local U.S. Consulate, where they will ask the same questions about their background. If this interview goes well, the candidate will receive their green card and be able to immigrate to the United States.  

Pros and Cons of PERM Labor Certification:  

Although PERM can be an incredible resource for employers and foreign workers alike, the program is not without its drawbacks. Let’s discuss these:  

Drawbacks of PERM Labor Certifications 

Wait times: As of June 2023, it takes the DOL nearly 300 days to analyze the PERM labor certification application and nearly 500 days to audit the application. The I-140 can also take several months to be approved. However, for an additional fee, USCIS will process the application in as little as 15 days. Finally, candidates will have to wait several additional months for approval of their I-485 application.  

USCIS also only accepts a limited number of applications for unskilled workers, that is, workers who have fewer than two years of experience or training. Each year they accept a maximum of 10,000 applications for these positions. 

Benefits of PERM Sponsorships 

On the other hand, PERM Sponsorships come with a lot of benefits. Workers benefit from the fact that USCIS requires employers to pay application filing fees. If they have a valid work visa, they can begin working for their employer as soon as they receive labor certification from the DOL, without waiting for USCIS to approve form I-140. Also, for certain types of visa holders, once their I-140 is approved, their children and spouses can apply for visas as well.  

Are you interested in learning more about the PERM Sponsorship program? Eagan Immigration can help to answer any additional questions you might have. Talk to an Eagan Immigration specialist today by calling 202-709-6439, or follow this link to schedule a consult with our business immigration team.