The path to permanent residence (a.k.a. greencard) status via employer sponsorship typically requires 3 stages:
- PERM Labor Certification (filed by the employer with the Department of Labor or DOL)
- I-140 Immigrant Visa Petition (filed by the employer with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services or USCIS)
- I-485 Adjustment of Status (filed by the employee, when the priority date is current, with the USCIS)
PERM Labor Certification ("PERM") requires the employer to conduct a substantial and specific test of the U.S. labor market in order to demonstrate that no minimally qualified U.S. workers are willing and able to perform in the foreign nationals offered position. The methods of acceptable recruitment are spelled out in DOL regulations and differ significantly from standard recruitment and include print ads in a newspaper of general circulation, advertisements with the state workforce agency, and other requirements.
Assuming the recruitment attracts no minimally qualified U.S. workers, the employer may then electronically file the PERM application with the Department of Labor. The recruiting must take place within a six-month period immediately preceding the electronic filing of the labor certification application.
After submission, the DOL may audit the PERM application. In an audit, the DOL asks the employer to provide evidence of its recruitment efforts, including but not limited to copies of advertisements, internet postings, etc. and the resumes of each applicant.
In certain circumstances, if the DOL is not satisfied with the recruitment, further supervised recruitment may be required. Supervised recruitment is the process by which the Department of Labor mandates that the employer conduct a second period of recruitment, taking extensive recruitment steps as specifically instructed by the Department of Labor.
Current DOL processing times of PERM applications can be found here.
Assuming the PERM labor certification is approved, the employer may then move on to filing the second step on the permanent residency process, the immigration visa petition.