The first step in employer-sponsored permanent residency applications requires labor certification. Unfortunately, this certification, or the permanent labor certification (PERM), continues progressing slowly. The Department of Labor (DOL) recently revealed the latest processing times for prevailing wage determination (PWD) and the PERM application.
According to the DOL, as of March 2023, it still needed to process PWDs from January 2022 and PERM applications from July 2022. Furthermore, the DOL is processing redeterminations for prevailing wage determinations submitted in June 2022. Additionally, the Office of Foreign Labor Certification is working on completing applications outside of the standard processing table. It typically takes 271 days for the DOL to adjudicate a case. An audit review takes an average of 363 days from the filing date.
Various data sources have indicated that random audit requests by the DOL have increased. Unfortunately, these requests have a processing rate of three to four months. Also, due to inconsistent adjudicating PERM applications, many applications have seen denials without audit requests. However, due to efforts by an advocacy group and other sources, the DOL backed down on the rejections.
These long processing times sometimes result in work interruptions. However, immigrants and their employers can employ some strategies to avoid these interruptions. For example, employers can start the PERM process well ahead of the H-1B or L-1 visa dates.
Taking the initiative like this can prevent a possible interruption in work authorization, ensuring their employees can stay in the United States. Starting the process two years before the maximum stay has proven enough time to prevent an interruption. However, employers should consider starting three years ahead due to current delays.
Employers can also batch cases to avoid long wait times. Additionally, they should consider PERM processes as part of a foreign national’s total immigration cycle. As a result, they should consider more than just the PERM process. For example, they should assess whether they need to change a foreign national’s visa to extend their stay in the United States.
The PERM process and prevailing wage determination are necessary for sponsoring employees. Thankfully, employers can take several steps to speed up the process. Employers who hire foreign nationals must remember to complete the employment eligibility verification (Form I-9), as they do for all employees.
However, completing Form I-9s has proven complicated due to the many documents that employees may present. The best way to ensure completed Form I-9s is to use an electronic I-9 management system. This system guides employers through each step, stores the form for easy retrieval, and alerts them when to take action to maintain compliance.
Automate your employment eligibility verification today with the ensured compliance of I-9 Compliance.