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Permanent Residence Through PERM Labor Certification

Posted by attorney Leonard D'Arrigo


There are 3 steps to obtaining a Green Card through Employer Sponsorship:

1) Labor Certification through the PERM process.

2) I-140 Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker.

3) I-485 Application to Register Permanent Residence.

STAGE 1: PERM Labor Certification

A permanent labor certification issued by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) allows an employer to hire a foreign worker to work permanently in the United States. In most instances, it is the initial step in the green card process for a foreign national. Before the U.S. employer can submit an immigration petition to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the employer must obtain an approved labor certification request from USDOL. 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 obtain an approved PERM Labor Certification, the employer must demonstrate (through newspaper advertising and other recruitment) that they were unsuccessful in recruiting a qualified U.S. worker for a certain position.

The employer must pay at least the prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment as determined by the U.S. Department of Labor.

Application Steps for PERM:

  1. Prior to filing ETA Form 9089, the U.S. employer must first request a prevailing wage determination from the DOL, which will be issued based on the position requirements and area of intended employment;

  2. Pre-Filing Recruitment Requirements: All U.S. employers must attest, in addition to a number of other conditions of employment, to having conducted recruitment prior to filing the application.

Mandatory Recruitment Steps:

  • Job Orders: Employer must place a job order with the State Workforce Agency (SWA) serving the area of intended employment for a period of 30 days

  • Advertisements in Newspaper or Professional Journals:

The U.S. employer must place an advertisement on two different Sundays in the newspaper of general circulation in the area of intended employment

Additional Recruitment Steps:

The employer must also select three additional recruitment steps from the alternatives listed below (the most common are highlighted below):

  • Job fairs
  • Employer’s website
  • Job search website other than the employer’s
  • On-campus recruiting
  • Trade or professional organizations
  • Private employment firms
  • Employee referral program with incentives
  • Campus placement offices
  • Local and ethnic newspapers
  • Radio and television advertisement

Only one of these additional steps may consist solely of activity that took place within 30 days of the filing of the application. None of the steps may have taken place more than 180 days prior to filing the application.

Recruitment Report:

Upon conclusion of the recruitment program, the employer must prepare a recruitment report signed by the employer describing the recruitment steps undertaken and the results achieved, the number of hires, and, if applicable, the number of U.S. workers rejected, categorized by the lawful job related reasons for such rejections.

The employer must categorize the lawful job-related reasons for rejection of U.S. applicants and provide the number of U.S. applicants rejected in each category.

  1. The U.S. employer requests a permanent labor certification by completing an Application for Permanent Employment Certification (“ETA Form 9089"), which describes the job duties, educational requirements, training, experience, and other special capabilities that the alien must possess to do the work, and a statement of the prospective alien’s qualifications.


  • Department of Labor regulations require that all costs associated with the PERM Labor Certification be paid by the employer, including advertising and legal fees.

STAGE 2: Filing Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker with USCIS

Once the PERM Labor Certification (Form ETA 9089) is approved by the U.S. Department of Labor, the employer will file Form I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker with USCIS. In this form, the employer notifies USCIS of the Labor Certification approval and the specifics about the proposed position and demonstrates that the alien qualifies to perform the position.

STAGE 3: Filing the Application to Adjust to Permanent Resident Status with USCIS

This is the centerpiece application of the employee for a green card. In this form, the foreign national employee official requests that the USCIS approve permanent resident status (green card) based on the employer’s approved I-140 petition.

TIMETABLE: Processing Times

PERM Labor Certification: 6 months, although within 30 days in recent months

I-140 Immigration Visa Petition: 4-6 months

I-485: 4-6 Months (once visa number is current)

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