What’s the path to a green card through the PERM system?

On Behalf of | Feb 7, 2024 | Immigration Explained

The path to obtaining a green card in the United States is multifaceted. The Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) system represents a crucial step for many immigrants seeking permanent residency through employment.

Established to streamline the labor certification process, PERM is an essential concern for foreign nationals aiming to secure a green card based on a job offer from a U.S. employer. This system requires employers to prove that no qualified U.S. workers are available for the position offered to the foreign worker.

Understanding the PERM system and its process

The PERM system operates digitally, allowing employers to submit their labor certification applications online to the Department of Labor (DOL). Before filing, the employer must register with the DOL and obtain a prevailing wage determination (PWD) for the offered position.

The PWD establishes the minimum wage the employer must pay the foreign worker, ensuring it aligns with wages for similar positions in the geographic area. After completing the recruitment process, the employer can file the PERM application if no qualified U.S. workers apply. This application details the recruitment efforts and justifies hiring a foreign worker.

Navigating the PERM application approval and subsequent steps

Once the PERM application is submitted, the DOL reviews it for compliance with all requirements. This review process can take several months and may involve an audit, where the employer is asked to provide additional evidence supporting their application.

If the PERM application is approved, the employer can file an Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker (Form I-140) with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Approval of the I-140 petition allows foreign nationals to apply for a green card, either through adjustment of status if they are already in the U.S. or through consular processing abroad.

The role of the PERM system in the green card process is complex and critical, acting as the foundation for many employment-based permanent residency applications. It ensures that hiring a foreign worker won’t disadvantage American workers while providing a pathway for immigrants to contribute to the U.S. economy as permanent residents.

For many immigrants and employers, navigating the PERM system successfully is a significant step toward achieving the American dream. Employers and immigrants can obtain legal guidance concerning how they should proceed with this process.