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PERM Processing Time 2024: An In-Depth Analysis of Current Timelines and Key Steps

Updated: Mar 6

Navigating the Green Card process through employment in the United States necessitates a thorough understanding of the PERM process. For many Employment-Based Visa applicants, staying abreast of the latest updates in PERM processing times and changes in immigration policies is critical. This comprehensive article delves into the intricacies of PERM timelines, examining each step in detail, considering priority dates, and estimating overall wait times for immigrants of various nationalities in 2024.


 
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Understanding the PERM Process

The Program Electronic Review Management (PERM) process, overseen by the Department of Labor (DOL), is integral for foreign workers seeking permanent residency or employment-based immigration in the U.S. In 2024, PERM processing time remains a significant concern for many applicants. This process involves several stages, each of which plays a vital role in the overall timeline.



Stages of PERM Processing

  1. Job Creation

  2. Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD)

  3. Labor Market Test and Recruitment

  4. PERM application via ETA 9089

Detailed Examination of Each PERM Stage

Step 1 in PERM: Job Creation The initial stage of the PERM process involves a detailed definition of the job for which a foreign worker is being sponsored. This includes specifying the job title, responsibilities, educational qualifications, experience, training requirements, and managerial responsibilities if any. It's crucial to outline these elements with clarity and precision to avoid any misinterpretation. Collaborating with an immigration attorney can ensure that every aspect of the job is accurately captured and aligns with PERM guidelines.

A meticulously crafted job description is essential. Lacking detail can lead to delays or rejections later in the PERM process. Therefore, employers must dedicate sufficient time to develop a job outline that accurately reflects the tasks and responsibilities, as per the PERM guidelines.

Typical Processing Duration for This Step: Approximately 1 month.

Step 2 in PERM: Prevailing Wage Determination (PWD) This phase involves obtaining a Prevailing Wage Determination from the Department of Labor. The PWD sets the minimum wage an employer must offer for the position, ensuring fair treatment of foreign workers and integrity in the U.S. labor market. The process generally takes 6-8 months for non-union positions and up to 10 months for union positions. Employers need to incorporate this timeframe in their planning for recruitment and advertising as part of the PERM process. It's crucial to offer a wage that meets or exceeds the prevailing wage, as failure to comply may result in PERM application denial.

Typical PWD Processing Time: Between 6 and 10 months, with about 8 months being common in September.

Step 3 in PERM: Labor Market Testing and Recruitment Employers are required to conduct a labor market test to ensure no qualified American workers are available for the job. This involves following specific recruitment steps such as advertising the job with state workforce agencies for over thirty days, in local newspapers on two consecutive Sundays, and at the worksite for ten consecutive days. Compliance with DOL's recruitment requirements is mandatory, and equal opportunity must be given to all job seekers. The duration of this step varies based on the job type and applicant responses, typically ranging from 3 to 12 months. Employers should factor this into their PERM application timeline and maintain detailed recruitment records.

Typical Processing Duration for This Step: 2 to 6 months, depending on the employer's efficiency.

Step 4 in PERM: Filing the ETA Form 9089 for Labor Certification After fulfilling the requirement of seeking suitable U.S.-based workers, employers and their attorneys must file the ETA Form 9089 electronically via the DOL's website. Accurate and timely submission of this form is critical, as any errors or delays could lead to application denials.

Understanding the ETA 9089 Form The ETA 9089 is the key document for Permanent Labor Certification, necessary for certain foreign workers seeking permanent employment in the U.S. It verifies the unavailability of qualified U.S. workers for the job, justifying the need for a foreign worker.

Factors Affecting the Processing Time of ETA 9089

  • Backlogs at DOL: Common in immigration processes, these can prolong processing times.

  • Application Accuracy: Inaccuracies can trigger a request for further information or lead to denials, extending the timeline.

  • Audit Requests: DOL audits can add several months to the processing duration.

Average Processing Times for ETA 9089 As of July 2023, the standard processing time is around 311 days. In cases of audits, this may extend to approximately 498 days. It's advisable to consult the DOL website or an immigration attorney for the latest information.

Typical Processing Duration for This Step: Between 311 and 498 days.


 

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Factors Influencing PERM Processing Times

  • DOL Backlogs: Processing times can be extended due to backlogs at the DOL.

  • Application Accuracy: Inaccuracies can lead to requests for further information or denials, increasing processing times.

  • Audit Requests: Audits are an additional step that can significantly extend the processing time.


Navigating PERM Audits PERM audits, which involve additional documentation and information requests from the DOL, are a routine part of the process. About 30% of applications are selected for audits, which can add 6 months or more to the processing timeline. Impact of PERM Audits on Processing Timeline

The PERM audit process can significantly extend the overall timeframe for PERM processing. Typically, undergoing an audit review can add an additional 6 months to more than a year to the standard processing duration. It is crucial to understand that this audit timeframe is supplemental to the usual PERM application processing period, which itself can vary from several months up to a full year. As a result, in instances where a PERM audit occurs, both employers and applicants should anticipate the process to extend by at least an extra six months beyond the standard timeline.

2024 PERM Processing Expectations The Department of Labor provides regular updates on its website regarding the average PERM processing times. As of mid-2023, these times range between 6 to 12 months, with factors such as application volume, regulatory changes, and staffing levels at the DOL affecting these durations. Influencing Factors on PERM Processing Duration Several key elements play a role in determining the timeline for PERM processing in 2024:

  1. Volume of Applications: A significant factor is the total number of PERM applications submitted. The Department of Labor (DOL) has noted an uptick in these applications in recent times, contributing to extended processing periods.

  2. Regulatory and Policy Shifts: Amendments in immigration regulations or policy changes can directly impact PERM processing times. When new regulations are introduced, the DOL often needs to modify its procedures to align with these changes, potentially leading to increased processing durations.

  3. DOL Staffing Levels: The workforce strength within the DOL is another crucial factor. In 2023, potential staffing challenges, possibly due to retirements or other reasons, might impede the pace of processing applications.

  4. Other Administrative Factors: The processing timeline has also been influenced by a surge in specific visa filings, like H-2A/H-2B, and the integration of the 2018 Standard Occupational Classification system. These administrative aspects have collectively resulted in prolonged processing times for both employers and applicants involved in the PERM process.


 

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PERM Status Checks and Post-Approval Steps Applicants can check the status of their PERM application online through the OFLC's PERM Case Status Check portal.


  1. Visit the OFLC's iCERT Visa Portal System.

  2. Navigate to the section labeled "PERM & PWD Processing Times".

  3. Here, you can enter your case number, which typically starts with the letter "A" followed by a series of numbers.

  4. Once you've entered your case number, you'll be presented with the current status of your application.

After PERM approval, the next step is filing the I-140 request with USCIS. Applicants may opt for premium processing for faster results.

Avoiding PERM Denials and Ensuring Compliance Careful formulation of job descriptions and thorough documentation of the recruitment process are essential to avoid PERM denials. Employers must demonstrate their financial capability to pay the determined wage rate and adhere to all recruitment and advertising requirements.

PERM Costs and Smooth Processing Tips Employers must consider all associated fees, including attorney, filing, advertisement, and recruitment costs. Engaging an experienced immigration attorney early in the process is advisable for expert guidance and to avoid common pitfalls.

Conclusion and FAQs In summary, understanding the PERM process and its various stages, including processing times and factors that may impact it, is crucial for a successful Green Card application. Employers and applicants should stay informed and prepared for each step of the process.


 

Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the current PERM processing wait time?

  • As of mid-2023, the average processing time is around 300 days for standard cases and 450 days for audit cases.

How long does it take to get I-140 after PERM approval?

  • The processing time for I-140 varies: with premium processing, it takes 15 days; without it, it can exceed 10 months.


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