A permanent labor certification issued by the Department of Labor (DOL) allows a U.S. employer to hire a foreign worker to work permanently in the United States.
In most instances, before the U.S. employer can submit an immigration petition to the USCIS, the employer must obtain an approved labor certification request from the DOL’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA).
The Department of Labor
The DOL must certify to the USCIS that there are no qualified U.S. workers able, willing, qualified and available to accept the job at the prevailing wage for that occupation in the area of intended employment and that employment of the alien will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
To improve the operations of the permanent labor certification program, ETA published a final regulation on December 27, 2004, which required the implementation of a new re-engineered permanent labor certification program by March 28, 2005.
The DOL processes Applications for Permanent Employment Certification, ETA Form 9089. The date the labor certification application is accepted for processing is known as the filing date and is referred to by USCIS and the Department of State as the priority date.
After the labor certification application is approved by the DOL, it is submitted to the appropriate USCIS Service Center along with the From I-140 (Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker).
You may access the State Department Visa Bulletin to learn which priority dates are currently being processed. If your priority date is current, you can also file Form I-485 (Application to Adjust Status).
Applications filed on or after March 28, 2005, must file using the new PERM process and adhere to the new PERM Regulations.
The job opportunity must be for a full time, permanent position and there must be a bona fide job opening available to qualified U.S. workers, if any.
Job requirements must adhere to what is customarily required for the occupation in the U.S. and may not be tailored to the foreign worker’s qualifications.
The employer must pay at least the prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment.
Filing the PERM Application
- Application – The employer must complete an Application for Permanent Employment Certification, Form ETA 9089. In the application, the employer must outline the recruitment undertaken as well as describe, in detail, the job duties, educational requirements, training, experience, and other special capabilities the employee must possess to do the work. In addition, the foreign worker’s relevant education and work experience, if any, must be provided.
- Signature requirement – Applications submitted by mail must contain the original signature of the employer, alien, and preparer, if applicable, when they are received by the National Processing Center (NPC). Applications filed electronically must, upon receipt of the labor certification issued by ETA, be signed immediately by the employer, alien, and preparer, if applicable, in order to be valid.
- Prevailing wage – Prior to filing ETA Form 9089, the employer must request a prevailing wage determination from the State Workforce Agency (SWA) having jurisdiction over the proposed area of intended employment. The employer is required to include on the ETA Form 9089 the SWA provided information: the prevailing wage, the prevailing wage tracking number (if applicable), the SOC/O*NET (OES) code, the occupation title, the skill level, the wage source, the determination date, and the expiration date.
- Pre-Filing Recruitment Steps – All employers filing the ETA Form 9089 (except for those applications involving college or university teachers selected pursuant to a competitive recruitment and selection process, Schedule A occupations, and sheepherders) must attest, in addition to a number of other conditions of employment, to having conducted recruitment prior to filing the application.The employer must recruit under the standards for professional occupations set forth in 20 CFR 656.17(e)(1) if the occupation involved is on the list of occupations, published in Appendix A to the preamble of the final PERM regulation. For all other occupations not normally requiring a bachelor’s or higher degree, employers can simply recruit under the requirements for nonprofessional occupations at 20 CFR 656.17(e)(2) Although the occupation involved in a labor certification application may be a nonprofessional occupation, the regulations do not prohibit employers from conducting more recruitment than is specified for such occupations.The employer must prepare a recruitment report in which it categorizes the lawful job-related reasons for rejection of U.S. applicants and provides the number of U.S. applicants rejected in each category. The recruitment report does not have to identify the individual U.S. workers who applied for the job opportunity.
- Audits/requests for information – Supporting documentation need not be filed with the ETA Form 9089, but the employer must provide the required supporting documentation if the employer’s application is selected for audit or if the Certifying Officer otherwise requests it.
- Retention of records – The employer is required to retain all supporting documentation for five years from the date of filing the ETA Form 9089. For example, the SWA prevailing wage determination documentation is not submitted with the application, but must be retained for a period of five years from the date of filing the application by the employer.
- Online filing – The employer has the option of filing an application electronically or by mail. However, the Department of Labor recommends that employers file electronically. Not only is electronic filing faster, but it will also ensure the employer provides all required information, as an electronic application can not be submitted if the required fields are not completed. Additionally, when completing the ETA Form 9089 online, the preparer is given prompts to assist in ensuring accurate data entry. The employer can access the PERM website and after registering and establishing an account, electronically fill out and submit an Application for Permanent Employment Certification, ETA Form 9089.
- Registration – To better assist employers with processing the Application for Permanent Employment Certification, the electronic Online Permanent System requires employers to set up individual accounts. An employer must set up a profile by selecting the appropriate profile option in the Online System. By completing an Employer Profile, you will be able to:
- Save time by pre-populating your general information;
- View the status of your labor certification applications online;
- Update your profile information online;
- Track newly submitted labor certification applications;
- E-mail saved labor certification applications to others within the company;
- Add new users to your account; and
- Withdraw labor certification applications when no longer needed.
- Filing by mail – A completed and signed paper copy of the ETA Form 9089 must be submitted to the PERM National Processing Center in Atlanta:
US Department of Labor
Employment and Training
National Processing Center
233 Peachtree Street, Suite 410
Atlanta, Georgia 30303
Approvals – If the National Processing Center (NPC) approves the application, the ETA Form 9089 is “certified” (stamped) by the Certifying Officer and returned to the employer/employer representative who submitted the application.