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Posted 12/14/2008

Delays in PERM Labor Certifications

When the new system of labor certification processing known as PERM was introduced on March 28, 2005, the Department of Labor (DOL) announced that its goal was to process labor certification applications within 45 to 60 days from filing.

The PERM was originally intended to significantly reduce the backlogs in applications by streamlining the process through automated filing and review. This is a preliminary step for employers wishing to sponsor foreign workers for employment-based green cards.

During its first year, the PERM process looked promising despite some glitches. Applications were certified within the projected time frame.
However, the latest statistics released by the DOL’s Office of Foreign Labor Certification show that the process now takes over 200 days for non-audited cases. As of September 30, 2008, the DOL was processing for final review those applications that were received in March 2008. Audited cases, on the other hand, are taking about fifteen (15) months while standard appeals are running almost two (2) years.

From October 2007 to September 2008, the DOL received 90,038 PERM applications. During the same period there were 61,997 completed cases. Out of this total, 49,205 or 79% were certified, 10,729 or 17% were denied and 2,063 or 3% were withdrawn.

The backlog grew to 28,042 cases during the 2008 fiscal year. As of September 30, 2008, there were 40,200 active cases of which 32% were in the audit process, 8% pending reconsideration or appeals and 57% under final review.

The backlog may be attributed to the increased audits undertaken by the DOL, which has raised concerns among employers and immigration attorneys.

Most notably, the DOL conducted several high profile audits particularly of prominent immigration law firms such as Fragomen Del Rey Bernsen and Loewy, and a Pennsylvania firm Cohen and Grigsby on the issue of advising companies during the recruitment process.

One audit resulted in debarring a software company from filing PERM applications while others were required to participate in supervised recruitment.

Recently, a court-approved settlement agreement was entered into between Fragomen, Del Rey, Bernsen and Loewy and the DOL resulting in the release of the firm’s PERM applications from wholesale audit and clarifying the role of attorneys in rendering legal advice to their clients throughout the PERM process.

Top jobs certified for permanent employment included Computer Software Engineers, Computer Systems Analysts, Computer and Information Systems Managers, Restaurant Cooks, Electronic Engineers, Market Research Analysts, Computer Programmers, Financial Analysts, Mechanical Engineers, Chefs and Head Cooks and Electrical Engineers.

The top five (5) states that received labor certifications were California, New York, New Jersey, Texas and Florida.

The Philippines was among the top ten countries ranking fifth among the recipients with 2,995 cases certified. The other top ranking countries are India (16,569), Mexico (3,444), China (3,328), South Korea (3,119), Canada (2,539), United Kingdom (913), Pakistan (887), Taiwan (821) and Ecuador (811). Workers from 179 countries received permanent labor certifications.

has been practicing law for over 30 years and is included in the Marquis Who’s Who in American Law. A former law editor and professor, he is also the author of a book on immigrant experiences. He has spoken in international and national conventions and has been interviewed on radio and television, including the ABC Nightly News. He has participated in meetings with White House staff and the Immigration Commissioner to discuss immigration reforms. For his community service and advocacy, he has received numerous awards in the U.S. and abroad. For more information, you may log on to his website at or call (212) 695-5281
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