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PERM

What is PERM?

What are the Steps for New PERM Applications?

How long does a New PERM Application take?

How much money does the PERM cost and who can pay for it?

How do I know if I am EB-2 or EB-3?

Why do I need to verify my education, experience and skills?

How do I verify my education?

How do I verify my prior employment / years of experience?

How do I verify required skills?

Can I use employment / skills gained while at my sponsoring Company for the VOE Letters?

What if my former manager is no longer employed by the same company?

What if my old company went out of business?

I have a verification of employment letter listing a similar but not exact skill as what is required on the PERM, is this okay?

When should I collect the VOE letters?

Will my former managers or companies be contacted?

My friend did not have to provide these letters, why do I need them?





Q: What is PERM?

PERM (also known as Alien Labor Certification, or AEC) is the first step in the employment based permanent resident (“green card”) process.  When filing a PERM application, the Company follows government mandated recruitment steps in an effort to find a U.S. worker for a defined position. If no U.S. workers are found, the Company files a PERM attesting that it made a good faith effort to test the U.S. labor market and that it has not been successful in finding a willing, able or qualified U.S. workers to fill the position.  In addition, the Company attests that the employment of the foreign national would not unfavorably affect the wages or working conditions of U.S. workers in similar positions.  The PERM approval is the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) certification that there were no qualified U.S. workers for the position to be held by the foreign and allows the Company to file an I-140, Immigrant Petition for Alien Worker with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) announcing their intention to employer the foreign Beneficiary in the green card position full time on a permanent basis.


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Q: What are the Steps for New PERM Applications?

Once the company has defined the minimum requirements and job description for the PERM Position, the Law Firm files a Prevailing Wage Request with the Department of Labor (DOL). The DOL analyzes the job description and requirements and location of employment to determine the fair market rate for the PERM Position. Once the DOL provides a Prevailing Wage Determination, the company reviews whether it has the ability and desire to pay the prevailing wage; if the company can and will pay the prevailing wage, the company may begin the mandated recruitment period. Recruitment runs in several locations including: Two Sunday ads in the Newspaper of General Circulation, State Workforce Agency postings, In House Postings, and 3 other mandatory ads. During the recruitment period, the company collects and reviews the resumes of applicants. If an applicant appears qualified, the company must contact and interview the applicant. If, after the mandated recruitment period, and the mandated 30 day “quiet period” there are no willing, able or qualified U.S. workers to fill the position, the Company may file the PERM application. While the PERM process is ongoing, the Foreign Worker should take steps to collect verification that the meet the minimum education, experience and skills required for the position.


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Q: How long does a New PERM Application take?

In general a new PERM application is expected to take approximately 6 months from initiation to filing. This timeline includes 6-8 weeks for prevailing wage determination, 30 days for the recruitment and 30 days for the quiet period, as well as time for preparation and document collection. The Peddibhotla Law Firm specializes in working with companies to develop PERM programs and best practices that limit the time to filing in PERM cases.

Upon filing, the PERM processing times vary greatly throughout the year. Current processing times can be found on the DOL website.


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Q: How much money does the PERM cost and who can pay for it?

Legal fees for PERM applications vary depending on the company and the details of the position and the foreign worker. While there are no filing fees, there are costs associated with the placement of mandated recruitment. Current advertising costs range from $2,000 – $3,000 per application. The Peddibhotla Law Firm specializes in working with companies to develop PERM advertisement that limits the cost burden on the sponsoring employer while still meeting DOL standards and recommended practice.
 
Foreign Workers (beneficiaries) may not pay any legal fees or costs associated with PERM applications. The DOL has issued very clear instructions on this subject and it is currently an important issue in PERM adjudication and enforcement. Sponsoring Companies must bear all costs associated with the PERM process and companies requiring or allowing their workers to pay for PERM applications face stringent penalties.
 
In addition to the costs association with the PERM application, all PERM applications come with a DOL determined prevailing wage. Employers must demonstrate the ability and intention to pay the prevailing wage from the time of filing until the sponsored Foreign Worker becomes a green card holder.


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Q: How do I know if I am EB-2 or EB-3?

Preference Category (EB-2 or EB-3) is determined by the defined minimum qualifications of the PERM position. Positions requiring at least a Master’s degree or a Bachelor’s degree and at least 5 years of professional (post-baccalaureate and progressive) experience qualify for EB-2 preference category. Positions requiring less than the above qualify for one of the EB-3 preference category classifications.

The minimum requirements for the PERM position are established by the company based on their documented minimum qualifications for entry into the position. For this reason, individuals who possess a Master’s degree may not always benefit from an EB-2 PERM, if the PERM is filed based on a position requiring less than a Master’s degree.


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Q: Why do I need to verify my education, experience and skills?

DOL and USCIS require that foreign Beneficiaries prove that they met the minimum requirements for the PERM position prior joining the sponsoring Company in the U.S. U.S. Workers applying for the Position based on the sponsoring Company’s mandated recruitment must also show that they possess the minimum required education, experience, and skills in order to be considered for the position.


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Q: How do I verify my education?

DOL and USCIS require that foreign Beneficiaries prove that they met the minimum requirements for the PERM position prior joining the sponsoring Company in the U.S. U.S. Workers applying for the Position based on the sponsoring Company’s mandated recruitment must also show that they possess the minimum required education, experience, and skills in order to be considered for the position.


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Q: How do I verify my prior employment / years of experience?

DOL and USCIS require that foreign Beneficiaries prove that they met the minimum requirements for the PERM position prior joining the sponsoring Company in the U.S. U.S. Workers applying for the Position based on the sponsoring Company’s mandated recruitment must also show that they possess the minimum required education, experience, and skills in order to be considered for the position.The best way to verify prior employment experience is with a Verification of Employment letter (VOE) written on company letterhead signed by your manager, supervisor, or by company HR. The letter should include: job title, duties, dates of employment, if you worked full or part-time, the technical skills you used or learned, and the name and title of the signer. The Peddibhotla Law Firm provides templates for VOE letters and will work with Foreign Workers to ensure that these letters meet the requirements of the Position.


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Q: How do I verify required skills?

Required Skill can be verified through a variety of methods. VOE letters from prior employers is the most common method of verification. In some cases, the Required Skills can be verified using VOE letters from University professors, or an academic transcript if the skill appears in the course title, or through a course description together with a transcript. Finally, it may be possible to use certificates to verify skills.


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Q: Can I use employment / skills gained while at my sponsoring Company for the VOE Letters?

In general, you may not use experience with the sponsoring company to qualify for the PERM.   If you did not have the experience and / or skills required prior to joining your sponsoring Company, the Department of Labor will challenge the stated minimum requirements of the PERM on the basis that the Company hired you for the position before you had the minimum requirements, and therefore the requirements are not true and valid. 

In extremely rare circumstances, experience with the sponsoring Company can be used to qualify for the PERM. However this requires that the PERM position be substantially (51%) different than the position in which you gained the experience. This is usually reserved for individuals being promoted from technical to managerial positions within the same company. Cases based on “substantial difference” are highly complex and require extensive work prior to submission as well as the approval of the company.


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Q: What if my former manager is no longer employed by the same company?

You can still collect a letter from the manager.  Ideally, all VOE letters would be printed on the letterhead of the prior company. However, if this is not possible, your manager can print the letter on the letterhead of her current employer. Alternatively, the letter can be on plain paper.  If the manager is no longer working for your old company we recommend collecting other evidence proving that you both worked for the same company. The Peddibhotla Law Firm have expertise in helping Foreign Workers verify past employment and can provide lists of acceptable evidence for various situations.


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Q: What if my old company went out of business?

 You can provide the same letter and evidence, as above.  You should also include evidence that the company is no longer in existence.


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Q: I have a verification of employment letter listing a similar but not exact skill as what is required on the PERM, is this okay?

VOE letters should confirm required skills verbatim (exactly, word for word). U.S. immigration officers are not technical experts, so anything less than exact word for word verification could cause confusion about your experience with the special skills.


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Q: When should I collect the VOE letters?

Once your company establishes the minimum requirements for the PERM position, you should begin working on collecting letters immediately. The VOE process can be very long and time consuming, so it’s important to start early in the PERM process.


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Q: Will my former managers or companies be contacted?

While the DOL and USCIS have the right to contact your former employers and verifying managers, it would be highly unlikely. 


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Q: My friend did not have to provide these letters, why do I need them?

It is the legal standard for green card applications to collect VOE letters to confirm experience and skills. PERM and I-140 petitions are currently being subject to extremely high levels of scrutiny and there are well documented instances of I-140 petitions being denied due to lack of corroborating evidence of the Beneficiary’s qualifications with the minimum requirements.


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| Phone: 510-498-1949

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