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The Department of Labor (DOL) released statistics for the Permanent Labor Certification Program (PERM) for fiscal year 2014 (as of Aug. 31), showing that nearly 30 percent of filings are under audit review.
The PERM process is the first step in the employment-based green card route for many foreign nationals. It is a highly regulated process, with the DOL requiring information from the employer on the job opportunity (such as the worksite location, duties, requirements and prevailing wage), information on the employer’s recruitment process for U.S. workers (such as where the employer placed the ads and on what dates), and information on the foreign worker (such as the worker’s place of birth, education credentials and work experience).
The DOL received a total of 67,691 PERM applications in FY 2014. Of those, 57,489 were certified, 4,162 were denied and 3,647 were withdrawn. Sixty-one percent of the certified applications are being reviewed by DOL analysts, 29 percent are in audit review, 9 percent are under appeal and 1 percent remain in the sponsorship stage.
“Overall these numbers and percentages have been pretty consistent for the past two to three years,” said Andrew Wilson, a partner in the immigration law firm Serotte Reich Wilson, based in Buffalo, N.Y.
The percentage of cases under audit review has “held pretty steady between 25 percent and 33 percent over the past few years,” he said.
Wilson added that the denial rate of 7.5 percent for FY 2014 is lower than past years, when it rose to 10 percent.
Employers sponsoring foreign workers for PERM are required to obtain a prevailing wage determination from the DOL, and the wait time can be burdensome. “One very positive trend for PERM adjudications this year has been improved processing times,” said Wilson. “The most recent PERM approval we received was processed in less than five months.”
Audited cases, however, are still taking a long time to process, he added. A PERM case that is audited can result in an additional eight- to 10-month delay until a final decision is issued, he said.
The DOL also released the top occupations, worksite states, industries, visa classifications, countries of citizenship and minimum education requirements of certified PERM applications in FY 2014.
The most common occupation classification for a PERM filing in FY 2014 was under Computer and mathematical (56 percent), the most common country of citizenship for a PERM beneficiary was India (56 percent) and the most common nonimmigrant classification was H-1B (86 percent). More than half (55 percent) of PERM filings required an advanced degree as the minimum education requirement.
Other top occupations were:
The top five worksites were California (24 percent), Texas (10 percent), New York (8 percent), New Jersey (7 percent) and Washington state (7 percent).
Most common countries of citizenship for PERM beneficiaries after India were China (7 percent), Canada (5 percent), South Korea (4 percent) and the Philippines (2 percent).
Roy Maurer is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
Follow him at @SHRMRoy
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