Getting a “green card” through sponsorship by your employer is the pathway to permanent residency for thousands of immigrants every year in the United States. Beginning in 2005, the United States Department of Labor (DOL) instituted a new system of labor certification for workers from foreign countries. This system, referred to as “PERM”, or the Program Electronic Review Management, processes labor certification applications from employers on behalf of foreign workers.
Sponsoring employers must show, to the satisfaction of the DOL, that certain job positions can only be filled by immigrants seeking the particular job. To do this, the employer must develop minimum requirements for the position involved. These requirements can pertain to education, knowledge of certain software or hardware used by the employer, experience in the type of job, techniques for performing necessary tasks as well as proficiency with specific programming languages or equipment to illustrate a few. They must show that they conducted recruitment for offer of employment with these minimum requirements and that there are no U.S. workers or lawful permanent resident applicants that met these requirements. The critical element here is that the minimal requirements be established in a fashion which are not overly restrictive and not tailored specifically to the sponsored immigrant.
The process is employer driven and it is the employer who files the requisite forms (Form ETA-9089) for sponsorship. It must be set forth the offered wage for the position which must be consistent with the prevailing compensation in the geographic location. The employer will need to be registered in the PERM database to avail itself of the system. PERM is a highly regulated and lengthy process and employers will need advice and assistance in navigating the process successfully.