Labor certification, also known as a “PERM Labor Certification,” is a process in the United States that employers often need to go through when they want to hire foreign nationals to work in permanent, full-time positions. This process is part of the employment-based immigration system and is typically required for certain employment-based immigrant visa categories, particularly those in the EB-2 and EB-3 preference categories.
Here’s an overview of the labor certification process:
- Job Advertisement: Before filing for labor certification, the employer must typically conduct recruitment efforts to demonstrate that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the position. These efforts may include placing job ads, posting the job on the state workforce agency’s website, and conducting other recruitment activities.
- Recruitment Period: The employer must actively recruit for the position for a specified period, typically 30 days. During this time, they must consider any qualified U.S. workers who apply for the position.
- Prevailing Wage Determination: The employer must obtain a prevailing wage determination from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). This wage is intended to ensure that the foreign worker will be paid a competitive wage for the position.
- PERM Labor Certification Application: Once the recruitment period is complete, the employer can file a PERM Labor Certification application with the DOL. This application includes details about the recruitment efforts, the job requirements, and other relevant information.
- DOL Review: The DOL reviews the PERM Labor Certification application to ensure that the recruitment process was conducted properly and that there were no qualified U.S. workers available for the position. If everything is in order, the DOL will issue the labor certification.
- Immigrant Visa Petition: After obtaining the labor certification, the employer can proceed to file an immigrant visa petition (Form I-140) with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to sponsor the foreign worker for an employment-based immigrant visa.
How to apply for an employment-based green card?
Applying for an employment-based green card in the United States is a multi-step process that typically involves the following key stages. Please note that the specific requirements and procedures may vary depending on the specific employment-based immigrant category, and you should consult with an immigration attorney or review the latest information from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) for your specific situation.
- Labor Certification (PERM, if applicable): As mentioned earlier, many employment-based green card categories require the employer to obtain a labor certification (PERM) from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) before proceeding with the green card application. This step involves advertising the job and demonstrating that there are no qualified U.S. workers available for the position.
- Immigrant Petition (Form I-140): Once the labor certification (if required) is approved, the employer can file an immigrant petition (Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker) with USCIS. This petition establishes the foreign worker’s eligibility for the green card based on their employment.
- Priority Date: USCIS assigns a priority date to the I-140 petition, which is the date the petition is received by USCIS. The priority date is important because it determines when the foreign worker can move on to the next stage, depending on visa availability and their country of chargeability.
- Visa Bulletin: Check the Visa Bulletin published monthly by the U.S. Department of State to track visa availability for your specific employment-based category and country of chargeability. The Visa Bulletin indicates when you can move on to the next stage of the process.
- Adjustment of Status (Form I-485) or Consular Processing: Once the priority date is current (visa numbers are available), the foreign worker can apply for an adjustment of status (Form I-485) if they are already in the U.S. This step allows the foreign worker to apply for a green card without leaving the country. Alternatively, if the foreign worker is outside the U.S., they can go through consular processing at a U.S. embassy or consulate.
- Biometrics and Interview: If applying for adjustment of status, the foreign worker will typically need to attend a biometrics appointment and, in some cases, an interview with USCIS to determine their eligibility for the green card.
- Green Card Approval: If USCIS approves the Form I-485 application, the foreign worker will receive a green card, also known as a Permanent Resident Card, which grants them lawful permanent resident status in the United States.
- Conditional Permanent Residency (if applicable): In some cases, such as the EB-5 Investor Visa program, green card holders may initially receive conditional permanent residency, which requires the filing of a petition to remove the conditions within a certain time frame.
- Permanent Residency: After the conditions are removed (if applicable), the green card holder becomes a permanent resident with no conditions attached.