If you’re a foreign national who wants to get a green card and become a lawful permanent resident, one route you can take is to apply for Permanent Employment Certification, have the Department of Labor (DOL) approve it, and then have the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) subsequently approve your Form I-140 or Immigration Petition for Alien Worker, filed by your sponsoring employer.

Labor Certification

Like many other foreign nationals aiming for their own green cards, you may look at employment-based opportunities and labor certification as your ticket. Certification is present to protect the local labor market and guarantee that people of another nationality don’t take jobs away from equally qualified Americans.

A US employer seeking labor certification for a foreign employee needs to show two things. First, it should be demonstrated that there isn’t any American worker even minimally qualified to do the job in the geographic area where it is available. Second, it should also be clear that the employment of the non-citizen isn’t going to adversely affect the incomes or working conditions of US citizen workers who are similarly situated. This refers to the payment of the position’s determined prevailing wage when the foreign employee achieves permanent residence status.

The PERM System

PERM labor certificationIf you’re taking the labor certification route to obtain a permanent resident status, the first step involves using the Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) process, which is a system designed by the US government to shorten the labor certification processing time from years to just months. If you meet certain requirements, you may be able to skip the PERM certification and achieve permanent residency straight away.

As per DOL guidelines, prior to hiring you, your employer should have placed an advertisement for the available job position for at least two Sundays. If you’re hired for a professional position, your employer should have also placed with the State Workforce Agency a 30-day job order, asked the agency for the prevailing wage determination for the job, and posted the job listing internally to advertise within the company. 

If all these recruitment process steps had been done without result, then your employer was qualified to go online and file a PERM application, stating that all efforts to recruit locally were exhausted to no avail. PERM generally takes 45 to 60 days to certify an application. The DOL, of course, has the authority to take longer in scrutinizing and auditing before certifying any seemingly problematic applications.

The DOL only certifies a suspicious application if it finds that the requirements have all been met. After the completion of the labor certification process, an employer is then allowed to apply for a permanent resident card for the foreign employee. 

Upon approval of your immigration petition, your next step is determined by your location. If you’re still in your home country or elsewhere outside the United States, you are immediately eligible for permanent residence. If you’re already in the country, you’re supposed to apply for adjustment of status to become a greencard holder. You probably won’t have to go through interviews at a USCIS office since your adjustment of status application is employment-based.

Are You Seeking a PERM Labor Certification? Consult a North Carolina Immigration Lawyer Now!

For legal advice and representation in US immigration and naturalization cases, contact us at Diener Law to speak with an experienced North Carolina immigration attorney.