Each year, approximately 140,000 people permanently immigrate to the United States for work. All but a handful of these people are sponsored by U.S. employers. In order to lawfully bring a foreign employee to the U.S., the employer must get the federal Department of Labor (DOL) to issue a labor certification form. DOL must certify that:
- There are insufficiently available, qualified, and willing U.S. workers to fill the position being offered at the prevailing wage, and
- Hiring a foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.
In order to make this certification, DOL has a complex process, commonly known as PERM, which employers must go through.
Immigration law requires that employers pay foreign workers at least the prevailing wage for the worker’s position, so the first step in the PERM process involves figuring out what the prevailing wage for a particular job is. In order to get this information, the employer files a request with the DOL for a prevailing wage determination (PWD). The DOL figures out what the prevailing wage is based on information, supplied by the employer, on job requirements, job duties, the worksite location, and the common wage for the specific job position in the specific worksite location.
Once the employer gets a PWD, they must advertise for the position at the PWD rate of pay. This is a really important step in the process since DOL must be able to certify that there were no suitable workers already in the United States. The DOL will not certify that there were no workers were available unless the employer made a good faith effort to find them.
If the employer does not find any suitable applicants after making a good faith effort, the employer can file the PERM application with the DOL to get a labor certification. If a labor certification is granted, the employer and potential employee can move forward with the green card process.
Application audits are very common, so having everything in perfect order is essential to keeping the process moving along. An experienced immigration attorney can help employers navigate the labor certification process to ensure that all the necessary forms are filed and steps are taken. Contact us for a consultation regarding your labor certification issue today.