Employer Sponsored Green Card

The Timeline for an Employer Sponsored Green Card: From Application to Approval

Navigating the path to obtaining an employer-sponsored green card involves several detailed steps. Each phase is crucial and requires careful attention to ensure a successful application. This blog outlines the timeline from the initial application to final approval, providing a clear roadmap for prospective applicants and employers alike.

What is the PERM Process and How Does it Work?

The PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) process is a critical step for employers in the United States who wish to sponsor a foreign worker for a permanent employment-based visa, specifically under the EB-2 and EB-3 visa categories. This process is overseen by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) and involves several detailed steps designed to protect the U.S. labor market and ensure that the hiring of a foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

Step 1: Prevailing Wage Determination

The first step in the PERM process is obtaining a Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) from the DOL. This involves the employer submitting a request to the DOL to determine the appropriate wage for the position based on the job duties and the geographic location where the job will be performed. The wage determined must be paid to the foreign worker once they obtain their green card. The processing time for a PWD can vary but typically takes about 150 days.

Step 2: Recruitment Process

Following the receipt of the PWD, the employer must conduct a recruitment process to test the U.S. labor market. This includes placing advertisements in various media, such as newspapers and job websites, to ensure that there are no able, willing, qualified, and available U.S. workers for the position. The employer must run ads in newspapers on two different Sundays and engage in at least three additional recruitment activities such as job fairs, employer’s website postings, or other methods.

Step 3: Filing the PERM Application

After completing the recruitment process and if no suitable U.S. workers are found, the employer can file the PERM application (Form ETA-9089) with the DOL. This application details the job duties, the recruitment process, and the results of the recruitment. The form must be filed electronically unless a special exception is granted for a paper filing. The processing time for a PERM application can range from about 6 to 12 months, depending on whether the application is audited.

Audits and Final Determination

The DOL may select the PERM application for an audit to verify the information provided. If audited, the employer must submit additional evidence to support the application. An audit can significantly extend the processing time. If the PERM application is approved, the employer will receive a certification from the DOL.

Subsequent Steps

Once the PERM is certified, the employer can then file an I-140 Immigrant Petition with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). Approval of the I-140 petition allows the foreign worker to apply for a green card either through adjustment of status in the United States or through consular processing if outside the United States.

The PERM process is complex and requires meticulous attention to detail to ensure compliance with all DOL requirements. Employers are advised to work closely with experienced immigration attorneys to navigate this process effectively.

What is the purpose of the PERM Process

The purpose of the PERM (Program Electronic Review Management) process is to protect the U.S. labor market by ensuring that foreign workers are not displacing qualified U.S. workers. It is a system used by the Department of Labor (DOL) to grant labor certification for employers who wish to hire foreign nationals to work permanently in the United States.

The PERM process requires employers to conduct a series of recruitment activities to test the labor market before they can file a labor certification application. This is to demonstrate that there are no able, willing, qualified, and available U.S. workers for the position they intend to fill with a foreign worker. The employer must also attest to paying at least the prevailing wage for the occupation in the area of intended employment.

The PERM application is an attestation-based process where the employer does not initially need to submit evidence of the recruitment process but must be prepared to provide it if the application is selected for an audit by the DOL. If the PERM application is certified by the DOL, it indicates that the employer has met all the requirements and that hiring the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers. This certification is a prerequisite for the employer to be able to sponsor the foreign national for an employment-based green card.

Step 1: PERM Labor Certification

The journey begins when an employer files a PERM Labor Certification. This step confirms no qualified U.S. workers are available for the job. The Department of Labor must approve this certification, which typically takes about six to nine months. Employers must meticulously document their recruitment efforts to meet regulatory standards.

Step 2: Filing the I-140 Immigrant Petition

Once the PERM is approved, the employer can file the I-140 Immigrant Petition with USCIS. This form demonstrates the employer’s ability to pay the offered wage and the employee’s qualifications. Processing times vary, but with premium processing, it can be expedited to approximately 15 days.

Step 3: Priority Date and Visa Bulletin Monitoring

After filing the I-140, the applicant receives a priority date. They must then monitor the Visa Bulletin, published monthly by the Department of State, to check when a visa becomes available. This waiting period can vary greatly depending on the applicant’s country of origin and the specific green card category.

Step 4: Filing for Adjustment of Status or Consular Processing

When the priority date becomes current, the applicant can either adjust their status in the U.S. using Form I-485 or proceed through consular processing abroad. Adjustment of status is an option for those already in the U.S., while consular processing is for applicants living abroad

Step 5: Biometrics and Interview

Applicants must attend a biometrics appointment where fingerprints and photos are taken. An interview with USCIS may also be required, during which the applicant must demonstrate their eligibility and the job offer’s validity.

Step 6: Final Approval and Receiving the Green Card

The final step is the approval of the I-485 or the immigrant visa through consular processing. Once approved, the applicant becomes a lawful permanent resident of the United States and will receive their green card shortly thereafter.

This timeline provides a general overview of the process for obtaining an employer-sponsored green card. Applicants and employers should prepare for a detailed and sometimes lengthy process, requiring patience and meticulous attention to detail. By understanding each step and preparing accordingly, the path to U.S. permanent residency can be navigated successfully.