Breaking down the PERM Process – Our Experience

PERM process for Green Card

Important notice before reading this post: nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice and is for educational purposes only.

Whenever any company desires to hire foreign professionals for a permanent position in their organization, they may go into the process of sponsoring a person for a Green Card to give them the right capability to work in the U.S.

As many organizations had come to realize, sponsoring a foreign worker for an employment-based green card is a great way to keep skilled talent in the country. However, in most cases, a labor certification, called “PERM”, should be completed.

This step has to be validated by the U.S. Department of Labor, and it’s mandatory before starting the green card process.

What is the PERM recruitment process?

Starting with the basics:

PERM stands for “Program Electronic Review Management.” It’s a step of the green card application process that tests the labor market; to ensure that there are no American citizens available to do the work needed.

The PERM is nothing more than a recruitment campaign with more rules. Therefore, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) manages this process and not the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Our PERM experience

As you all know, we came to the U.S. in 2014, under an E-1 visa employee for me, and an E-2 visa employee for Max. After a year and a half living and working in the country, I quit my job, got married to Max and created my own business: UsponsorMe. This changed my visa status from E-1 to E-2D visa.

Making a long story short, not so long ago, we got the news that our visas were going to be obsolete a few months later.

At the time, Max started the Green Card application, and I simultaneously submitted an E-2 investor visa request with my own company that was denied by early 2018. So, we kept going and put all our efforts on the first application submitted by Max.

During this process, we had to go through the PERM, the first step of the Green Card process, that we started in mid-2017. As mentioned, Max was going to be sponsored by his company, so even though my visa status was in the line too, only Max and his company had to take over all the PERM process.

Read more about our experience from Day 1 here!

PERM process overview

Step 1: Preparing the Job Description and Requirements

The PERM process started with the lawyer working together with Max and Max’s CTO, in order to draft a very detailed job description and an accurate list of requirements.

Max provided a detailed resume with all his skills and experience learned over his work history. And his company provided the exact Job Description of Max’s position, with all required skills, work experiences, and strengths necessary for that position.

The lawyer used this information to design the perfect job description for what the company needs precisely, validated by Max’s company. The more distinguishing and distinctive the job ad is, the better.

In contrast, the lawyer requested as well:

  • Max’s duties from the CTO.
  • Diploma and U.S. equivalence. In this case, the U.S. validated his French Master as a master’s degree, but it all depends on the degree you got in your home country.
  • Years of experience in the field.

All the above was done with the help of the HR assistant, validated by Max and his manager before submitting it to the lawyer.

Step 2: Preparing the Experience Verification Letters (EVLs)

An Experience Verification Letter is a referral letter, to prove that the experience and skills mentioned by Max and the company were real and objective after the job description is finalized. So the lawyer drafted the Experience Verification Letters that Max needed to obtain the signature.

Max was responsible for getting 3 recommendation letters from people of the last companies he worked. It was not acceptable to take into consideration referrals in his current company, except if it’s a subsidiary.

At least 2 referrals should be from directors.

Max got three signatures: two referral letters from his former managers in France, and one from a former co-worker.

Step 3: Preparing the Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD)

Once they completed the job description and determined the experience requirements, the lawyer drafted a Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) application and sent it to Max’s company for review.

A prevailing wage determination must be requested from the DOL. The employer will be required to pay 100 percent of the prevailing wage by the time Max attains permanent residency.

After Max’s company approval, the lawyer-filled the PWD request with the DOL.

Although the recruitment process for the position can begin before the PWD is issued; the lawyer strongly recommended that Max’s company waited before starting the recruitment process.

Step 4: Labor Market Test

PERM for US job

In this stage, the lawyer worked with Max’s company to complete the necessary recruitment process. For that, they did a Labor Market Test.

The labor market test consists of advertising the job to allow job seekers to apply for. The job ads should be visible on an office wall, a local newspaper, company’s employee referral program, job search engine websites such as Monster.com or Careerbuilder.com, in the State Department of Labor, etc.

It took several Months (minimum 10 / 30 days for each posting way).

It’s important to keep in mind that this PERM stage takes time and you cannot interfere with the process.

Step 5: Recruitment Analysis and Preparation of the Final ETA Form 9089

Max’s company HR team needed to review all applicants. They must keep a record of all applicants and maintain each applicant’s resume in the meantime.

The lawyer found it helpful to maintain an applicant tracking spreadsheet for this process.

Applicants who appeared to be qualified based upon their resumes went through additional screening. If any applicants possess the minimum requirements and are qualified and available for the job; then the PERM may not be approved.

The recruitment process took several weeks. This is to review all of the resumes appropriately. Only Max’s company took care of that; the lawyer has not participated at all in the candidate review process according to DOL regulations.

We never knew how many candidates have applied for the job ad, if any.

We started the process end of June, and we got the PERM approval by the U.S. Department of Labor, end of May 2018; 11 Months after.

If you are in the same case than us, I know that the processing times can vary depending on whether or not they want to select you for an audit.

To be sure about which ideal non-immigrant visa fits with YOU, simply take this quiz!

The Green Card process through PERM is neither quick nor easy. The PERM process can be tricky for employers. Understandably the DOL wants to protect the U.S. workforce, and it’s quite normal!

We are very happy to have got the approval, and ready to fill the step 2 of the Green Card process I will tell you in a next post very soon.

Check out our Step by Step Guide to get your job in the US!

Are you also on PERM process right now? Or is that something you and your company is going to plan? Share your experience in the comments below!

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Sarah Papasodaro

Expat in the USA, creator of the blog Vivre au-delà des frontières, and founder of USponsor me. My goal is to help you achieving your American Dream: living and working in the USA. :)

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