In order to recruit and retain the world’s top talent in the professional and skilled trades, many businesses offer to sponsor the Green Card petitions of employees whom they wish to retain. Nine times (9) out of ten (10), sponsoring the employment based Green Card of a foreign national means that the US Department of Labor will scrutinize the job, the business and the alien through the PERM process.
Before the Process Starts: Know the Order of Operations for the PERM and Employment Based Green Card Process
Attorney’s have a natural inclination to toss around legalistic words and acronyms. Among the usual suspects in the field of immigration law are the often used yet rarely defined terms such as PERM, Labor Certification (Labor Cert or simply LC), Green Card and Permanent Residency. Employers need to know that obtaining a Green Card through the PERM process involves three distinct applications/petitions made to two (2) different federal agencies over the course of one (1) to nine (9) years. Below, I have listed and defined the major road signs along the employment based Green Card journey in order to clarify the process and cut through the legal jargon.
Permanent Residency – This is the intended result and desired outcome of the employment based visa process. Permanent residency is perhaps best understood when compared to the temporary categories of visa (H-1B. L-1. E-2, B-2 and J-1). The major difference is simple, permanent residency allows the alien to live and work permanently, or at the least for a very long time with renewable intervals under good behavior.
All Green Cards come from the same source and give the same rights to the card holder, whether the basis for the green card is an employment based petition, asylum/refugee based petition or marriage/ family based petition. The federal government has decided that after a Green Card petition has been approved, the alien must wait a certain period of time until a green card will be made available to them. All Green Cards, regardless of their basis, are applied for using the I-485 Application Document.
Every category of petition has a different wait time. Within every category of petition, different countries have longer or shorter wait times. Notably, employment based applications from China and India usually have a wait time of five (5) to nine (9) years after they have been approved to file for a Green Card. The Department of State lists and updates the wait times for such Green Card petitions on a monthly basis.
Green Card – This is the official document which states the alien’s permanent residency status. It is an ID card, currently pink in color but soon to return to a green hue, that the holder can carry to prove their immigration status. Status as a permanent resident does not disappear if the card is lost or stolen, although the alien should apply for a new card, as with any government issued ID.
Labor Certification – Labor certification is what the Department of Labor gives to the employer, proving that the employer has followed the steps to hire an alien and sponsor their work based permanent for an employment based visa. The Labor Certification is a double sided document printed on special paper with a magnetic strip. It must be applied for by filling out a Labor Certification Application either online or using a paper application. Essentially, with this document, the Department of Labor Certifies that the employer has looked for, but has not found an American worker who is equally as qualified, ready and willing to perform the job needed. With this document in hand, the employer can request permission to apply for a Green Card from the United States Ictizen and Immigration Service (USCIS). The permission is requested through the I-140, Petition for an Immigrant Worker document.
PERM – An acronym for the process that the employer must undergo before a labor certification application can be filed. PERM is short for the almost nonsensical and never used in spoken language, Program Electronic Review Management.
The PERM process requires that the employer first advertise the job opening to American Workers before hiring an Alien. Not just any advertisement will suffice, the regulations mandate a series of newspaper advertisements, postings with state employment offices, physical posting s and usually (3) of ten (10) various additional advertisements. Every advertisement must contain carefully crafted language to pass federal guidelines. Additionally, strict time frames must be followed for every step. It for this reason that the expert guidance of an immigration attorney is highly recommended in navigating the PERM process.
Our Firm Provides Guidance at All Steps of the Green Card Process
Our firm has years of experience in the employment based Green Card process. If you have questions about an immigration visa or green card matter, and/or you need help in an immigration process, please contact our immigration attorneys or call The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates Co., LPA at the nearest office close to you to consult with an attorney. Our law firm handles various matters including Green Cards and Permanent Residence, family immigration, immigrant visas, non-immigrant visas, employment visas and H1B visas, Investor Visas, PERM applications, and many more. Please contact us and experience how our law firm can assist you in your immigration matters. Whether you are an employer, an employee or a family member, The Law Firm of Shihab & Associates, Co., LPA has competent, responsive and innovative lawyers who can make your immigration experience pleasant and seamless.