In general, if a U.S. employer wants to sponsor a foreign national for U.S. permanent residence (green card status), the employer must go through the extremely cumbersome PERM labor certification process managed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s regional office in Atlanta. Throughout 2013 the processing times for PERM labor certification applications have gone from two to three months to more than six months. While DOL was closed due to the U.S. government shutdown no PERM applications were prepared, filed, or approved. Even when open, DOL was auditing a large number of PERM filings and denying audited cases based on strict consideration of the underlying regulations and guidance.
In light of these difficulties, some employers are evaluating PERM-exempt strategies for their foreign national employees and having success with an exemption from the PERM labor certification process for foreign nationals doing work deemed, broadly speaking, “in the national interest.” These waivers of labor certification for work in the national interest can be prepared and filed directly with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS), which remained open during the government shutdown as it is funded by user fees. Further, national interest waiver immigrant visa petitions are often processed faster and more reasonably than the DOL processes PERM labor certification applications. Remember, PERMs are not the only way to get your hair to stay—or your employees here to stay.
Webber Law Firm, LLC