California companies that wish to hire foreign workers to fill positions that require specialized skills or qualifications must complete the U.S. Department of Labor’s Permanent Labor Certification process before they file Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker forms. The PERM process, which is administered by the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration, was put into place to ensure that foreign workers are only issued employment-based visas when no qualified American candidates are available.
The PERM process
Before employers can submit an Application for Permanent Employment Certification form to begin the PERM process, they must make efforts to recruit a suitable American worker to fill the position in question and list the position with a DOL State Workforce Agency. They must also obtain a Prevailing Wage Determination from a SWA to establish that the salary they are offering is at least equal to the average wages being earned by workers in the same field.
PERM processing times have grown longer in recent years because of backlogs and increased DOL scrutiny. PERM audits, which can be triggered by information provided on employment immigration forms or occur randomly, are thorough examinations of all of the documents provided by employers and their efforts to find a qualified American candidate. A DOL audit can add several months to PERM processing times.
Balancing innovation and job protection
The federal government introduced immigration-based visas to help American companies in emerging fields remain competitive, and it put the PERM process into place to ensure that these visas are only issued when no qualified American candidates are available. Employers must take steps to find qualified American candidates before they submit PERM paperwork, and their applications may be delayed if they are audited by the DOL.