The U.S. Department of Labor Rolls Out Important Changes to the PERM Certification Process for Foreign Workers

Many foreign workers who work legally in the United States do so with a non-permanent visa such as an H-1B. Some foreign workers, however, work in this country on a permanent basis, holding what’s called a PERM visa. The federal government makes roughly 140,000 of these visas available each year. The application process is complicated and time-consuming, and successfully acquiring one of these visas requires skill and attention to detail. To give your PERM visa request the best chance of success, don’t delay in reaching out to a knowledgeable Maryland PERM immigration lawyer.

On June 1, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification (OFLC) made an important change to the ETA Form 9089 (PERM certification) application and case management process. Now, all PERM applications go through the Foreign Labor Application Gateway (FLAG) portal. The department also clarified that all applications filed before June 1 will continue to proceed through the old portal, as the old portal will remain functional.

In connection with the transition of PERM applications to the FLAG, the OFLC also introduced a new ETA Form 9089. The new version is a “smart form,” which means that, if an applicant previously filed a prevailing wage determination through the FLAG portal, that applicant can link that determination to his/her PERM application.

The “prevailing wage determination” is a critical step along the path to obtaining a PERM certification. In this context, a “prevailing wage” is the average wage earned by “similarly employed workers” in your specific line of work. To complete this step, your employer has to fill out Form ETA-9141, called the “Application for Prevailing Wage Determination.”

Once your employer successfully completes the application, the Department of Labor will issue a prevailing wage determination. Only after the department issues this determination can the PERM application process be completed.

This determination process is crucial in ensuring that employers are neither exploiting foreign workers by compensating them less than fairly, nor harming U.S. workers by artificially depressing wages through the use of underpaid foreign workers.

New Requirements and New Options for Providing Essential Info

Additionally, the new ETA Form 9089 requires more detailed information about the work the foreign employee will do, as well as in-depth explanations regarding worksites and telecommuting options. This includes questions regarding the specific site of the work (including whether or not the applicant will live on the employer’s premises). It also allows employers to describe circumstances whether the applicant’s work is such that the applicant will work in several locations across a wide geographic area or the worksite is not known at the time of application.

Once the Labor Department certifies your PERM application, your employer can file the “Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker” (Form 140) with the USCIS. After the department approves your employer’s Form 140, you can, using that approval and your certified PERM application, begin filing for your green card.

Getting to your desired result (a green card) through the PERM certification process takes a lot of time, plenty of diligence, and the right knowledge. The Maryland PERM certification attorneys at Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC have significant experience dealing with the PERM certification process. Contact us today at 301-519-2801 or via our online form to schedule your consultation.

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